Confidence in your craft for Young Professionals
Every few months I experience an episode of the dreaded quarter-life crisis where I wonder if my life has any meaning, where all my idealism went, why I decided to be an adult, and long for simpler days. (It's normal - the Internet said so)
My last quarter-life crisis episode was mostly centered around my career and how little I felt like an 'expert lawyer.' Luckily I was able to process this to my father who has been a lawyer longer than I have been alive and he assured me that there was nothing like an expert lawyer. He explained to me that confidence in my craft will be gained over time and experience but that no amount of intellectualism prepares young professionals to be more confident in their craft.
I just wanted to share a few tips with you over the past few months that have helped me own my identity as a lawyer and question myself less.
As a 20-something who has been in school almost as many years as I have been alive (I started school at age 2 #OverAchievingNigerians) having an actual full time job in a field that I chose to invest lots of time, heart and energy that does switch itself up every semester has been an adjustment from going to school and that adjustment takes time and patience.
Recognizing that the uncomfortable feelings associated with being in a new profession is growing pains and not an indication that you need to run to the next thing that catches your eye is a huge step of growth towards growing confident in craft.
Find the specific things you get to do in your profession that bring you joy and do more of those specific things. For example if you are in the hospitality industry and you really love creating luxury spaces for people to be in, take note of that feeling & replicate it often. If you are in the legal profession like I am, and you really enjoy problem solving and finding complex answers for people, do more of that.
Read more about things within your industry. Reading has a way of giving your more confidence because you find little nuggets of wisdom that help you sound like more knowledgeable and you can always credit the author if it's not accurate advice.
Hang out with positive and more knowledgable people within your industry. Friends it has to be a sweet spot of positive and knowledgable! They can be mentors or just people you go out to lunch with every couple of months. The only requirement is that they actually somewhat enjoy their jobs and know more than you do.
Figure out some alternative streams of income that intersects with your profession. We all know that millenials tend to be overworked and underpaid. The pressure for one job to meet all your financial and emotional needs while providing mentoring, professional development, and good work/life balance might be a tad bit too idealistic for an entry level job. So, go something else that you can do that meets some of the other needs you have but benefits your profession in some way. If you have an office job that doesn't let you meet a lot of people outside your cubicle, you might consider getting a waitressing gig on the weekends to help you meet some new people. If you are around people all day in a sales job, you may consider working at a library during after hours to be alone and around lots of free books. I teach yoga and practice law and run an African-centric organization with my best friend– they all meet different needs and intersect together at a sweet spot that helps me hone skills to be a better professional.
Alright, I hope those tips were insightful & helpful. Leave a comment on which tip you will be trying or something you are already doing to get more confident in honing your skills.