Are you unhappy in a new job? Or an old job? Sometimes it's time to move on, but sometimes we might not be seeing something in ourselves that we can change. I realized something about myself that really turned things around.
A few days ago, when I was on my morning bike ride before work, I shouted “on your left!” as I passed two women who were walking. One of them said “my, such a small voice!” and I was like…excuse me ☝️ if you know me at all, you know I do not have a small voice. I have never had a “small” voice.
I just started working as a science writer at Biorasi a few months ago, and I went into this job very sure of my abilities to work hard and to also take plenty of breaks. This was an extra important theme to me coming out of grad school where I thought I knew how to manage stress but let it get the better of me most of the time. In this new job, I was efficiently cranking out assignments while also going home not completely drained. This is a really difficult thing to achieve, and I was very proud of myself.
But in starting work at a new place, I was also trying to make sure I didn’t cross any lines with my loud voice. Most people in my department had been there for a couple of years, and I had a lot to learn about marketing (NEVER took a business class in my life). So I was very aware of my need to be humble and listen to my colleagues and supervisors. But I became almost subservient to others’ ideas. I wasn’t expressing what I really thought, and that in turn made me feel that I didn’t really have anything to offer.
After a couple of months of this, the newness started to wear off, and I didn’t feel like I was growing. I talked with my boss and we came up with a few ideas to give me some additional meaningful work to do. For some reason, it still wasn’t cutting it, and I started wondering if I was in the wrong place.
So when that lady on the bike path judged me and told me I had a small voice, I was actually ready for it and took it to heart. I started to pay attention to the times when I wanted to say something but didn’t. I recognized myself feeling like it wasn’t worth my effort to say anything because I wasn’t going to stick around anyway (bad attitude, Jen! Not good!). The opportunity to speak up is not always given out, but sometimes it’s important to just assert yourself.
As Brené so lovely puts it, we have to learn how to belong to ourselves. To me, this means outwardly standing up for what you believe in. We are always challenged with the choice of voicing our opinion or not, and it means we will stand alone sometimes when we speak up against the crowd. I do think though that we can move mountains when we solidly stand for what we believe in, rather than conforming to the crowd.
Of course, there’s a graceful way and a not so graceful way to speak up, so bear that in mind. I am still figuring that out. But I can’t be afraid of offending someone so much that I don’t act when I feel it’s necessary. And I think there’s actually a better chance that you will actually earn respect when you do assert yourself rather than when you are being polite and taking crap.
I have sent the “small” voice away and started speaking up: I want our department to be a team. I want us to collaborate and get excited about our projects. No, I don’t think that project is a good use of our time. I have a lot of ideas, and even though they might get shut down by one person, I can choose to be more persistent and find someone else who thinks it’s a good idea. Now that I’ve started expressing myself again, things are on the upswing.
Are you unhappy in a new job? Before giving up and starting over, consider these things:
You may realize you’ve compromised yourself early on in a new job, or you might wake up one day, years into a job, and realize you haven’t been true to yourself. I don’t think it matters when you realize it, but if you are unhappy and the reasons for it seem to be due to other people’s actions and attitudes, I think it’s important to consider that there also may be some work you can do on yourself.