4 Burning Thoughts on How Work Growth Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

Photo by  Ivana Cajina  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Alright. Fine. Here it is. I have to get something off my chest. I have a problem with the way that American culture at large seems to look at success and value in work.

Being qualified to do something doesn’t always mean you went to school for it.

There are some forms of work where, it’s just incredibly unlikely and mostly dangerous for you to try to do that work without extensive formal schooling. Performing a surgery for example, or defending someone in a court of law. But learning in a school setting isn’t the only way to learn and even in those life/death, freedom/imprisonment, bankruptcy/wealth-affecting jobs it’s not the only way that people are guided to learn, and there even are instances in which people without traditional formal schooling are trained to do that work.

Medical students are shown surgeries; they’re taken under the wing of older more experienced doctors. Many lawyers and businesspeople have mentors and practice their skills in staged situations to prepare them for the real situations they’ll eventually face.

Bottom line, training is necessary, but depending on your field, it can be approached in a variety of equally valid ways (or let’s say ways that each have pros and cons for you to weigh depending on your circumstances). So figure out what kind of training is available and accessible to you and go!

And if you can reasonably self-teach to start, go for it! Just paint! You want to design stuff? Start designing! You want to be a photographer? Get the camera you can afford and just start and don’t let anyone tell you that you are not a painter or designer or photographer. You ARE that. You are a BEGINNER that. So by all means, people stay HUMBLE. But stand firm. That’s a first step.

It’s okay to be a beginner.

I have seen a little contempt lately online toward people who are just starting out in their creative fields. “They charge too little/too much” or “They’re not high quality enough” or “They haven’t been around long enough” or whatever the case may be.

Hey beginners out there [waves]! Hi! Hello. Yes. Welcome! [hugs] You’re on your way! In a few months you’re going to realize that you could be doing so many things so much better. In a year you’re going to look back and laugh about the silly mistakes you made when you were clueless about what you were doing. In a few years you’re not going to believe how far you’ve come! And through all that I hope you’ll never forget those earliest, foggiest, most nervous days when you first started. And you’ll welcome the new newbies with open arms.

Remember how much bravery it took you to take the leap, to start, to have faith in yourself. Look for the best in people. You can correct someone else, just correct them kindly. Maybe offer a mentorship. Share what you’ve learned, and how you learned it. Have compassion.

Remember. We all start somewhere. And we’re all different. So their start may not look like yours did. That’s okay too.

And if some other person really is taking advantage — really is full of ego or malicious intent — boy is that kind of thing hard to hide. There are compassionate ways to confront people acting in those ways but I’ve found they typically become their own downfall.

Some certifications are not worth the money (at least right now).

Having a stack of certifications won’t mean much if your heart isn’t truly in what you’re doing or you go broke along the way to getting them and you can’t afford to do the work you want to do anymore anyway.

There are a bunch of certifications I think it would be nice to have, but I’m just pursuing the ones that will affirm the experience I’m gaining at the most foundational level. Certifications are icing on the cake. And you know what, a cake with no icing is basically a brownie so, yeah, it’s still AMAZING.

Life isn’t one-size-fits all. Ask for advice, but don’t follow a path that’s not yours.

I went to a four-year university. A really expensive four-year university. I’m incredibly grateful that I had a full-tuition scholarship, the support of my parents, and opportunities to work while in school — all allowing me to attend that beautiful establishment.

My college experience gave me so much space and encouragement to grow and learn according to my own initiative and vision. And even now, after school has ended, I have this network of people that still benefit me. But guess what? Some people had awful college experiences, or college experiences that now seem entirely disconnected to what they do or didn’t go to college and are wildly successful in what they do!

I see people asking online all the time about what other people did to pursue that kind of work or this kind of work, especially in the creative and self-employed worlds and you know what, that’s great, but it has limits.

Once someone tells me, “This is how I did it and this is the right way,” I know to put a yellow flag up. They might be right. But let me still check for other options.

I have to make the decisions about my work, my business and my life that fit who I am, what I can afford, what I stand for, who I want around me and what I want my legacy to be. So while I always appreciate seeing how others do things — and I ask for those perspectives often — I always filter it through my values and goals... and bank statement, let's be real.

Every time someone reaches out to me about design or doula work I get little butterflies in my stomach like someone just asked me to dance after I’d been crushing on them all semester. I can hardly believe that I get to design beautiful things and to be there supporting parents as their babies are born!

I didn’t go to college for these things. But I self-taught, I attended trainings, I watched, I asked questions, I read books, I discussed, I’ve done everything I can do to prepare myself because offering quality is not a question — it’s a requirement.

Anyway, I just want to encourage people today. If you’re feeling unworthy, if you’re feeling too behind, if you’re feeling like you’re not the “type of person who does A B or C” — those are lies.

Nothing and no one can hold you back. You better go for it! Leave the FB trolls in your dust. ☀️