School is out. All the training and preparation in the world can’t prepare us for the new realities and opportunities that we wish to pursue or life presents to us.
The ultimate goal in any new endeavor that we choose is to succeed. However, before success can be accomplished or achieved, we often find ourselves frightened. We are frightened that we will not live up to our expectations or that we may be exposed early on for our inability to succeed quickly.
It may be a new job, a new responsibility within a job, a promotion, a new relationship, a passion, a hobby or anything that is added on to our plate that we wish to accept, embrace and succeed in. Within the acceptance and embracing of any new endeavor we do not want to fail. In fact, we want to succeed to the point of being a model of how to “make it.”
I graduated from a prestigious university with undergraduate BA degree in Government & International politics. I continued my education and received a master’s degree in Secondary Education in the Social Studies. I received a lot of training, a lot of tips and advice on how to succeed, but once I was thrust in to the real world, I quickly discovered that all those pieces of paper that claimed I was “qualified” we not not worth more than the paper the degrees were printed on.
While pursuing my degrees, I often counted the days until I would complete each program. I longed for the day where I would be on my own ready to enter in to the work place. I felt as if my qualifications and references would expedite my career search.
Then the day came. I was out on my own ready to flourish. The reality hit me a few months after completing all of my degrees and training that finding a job was not as easy as I had thought.
Eventually I caught a break. A teacher at a school had to leave a month in to the school year and I was one of the few able candidates remaining in the job pool. I had no connections or mentor in my field to guide me, so my job search relied solely on my ability to interview and my resume.
I finally landed my job. Immersed in my career. Yet another reality hit me. I did not know what I was doing!
Around this same time, I found myself entering in to a new relationship. A more serious relationship than I had been in before. I had had a few flings, but nothing remotely serious up to this point. Once again, I was petrified because I didn’t want to screw this up and I wanted to succeed!
To throw another log on the fire, roughly around this same time I took up a new hobby/passion: blogging.
All of these events were converging at once. At times I felt overwhelmed. I had to “fake it until I made it,” in all areas.
I survived that year, and I succeeded. As I now reflect upon that year, there were five things I did that greatly helped me succeed. Five things that helped me going from “faking it” to “making it.”
1 – Confidence in action – In all three areas, I made many mistakes. How I handled each situation was the key to my success. In the work place, I volunteered as much as I could. I was even willing to do mundane tasks that many other teachers dwelled. By volunteering, it helped to boost my confidence and understanding of how teachers conduct themselves. Volunteering also showed those above me that I was capable of performing tasks beyond simply teaching students in my class and nothing more.
Early in my relationship I was a nervous wreck. I did not want to appear to be an ego maniac or cocky, but I was decisive, yet flexible along with reliable. The combination of the three elements showed my partner I was confident enough to take charge, yet open enough to allow her input and for her to open up to me. Our trust was built through this.
Writing offered me another unique ability to display my confidence. Not merely the words I expressed, but by balancing my confidence in writing and opening up about topics that many shy away from. Confidence was a major factor in my ability to write and open up more of myself. It opened the doors for me to explore new topics to write about and express opinions I would otherwise be hesitant to share.
2 – Add Value – I touched upon this a bit as it relates to how my confidence enhanced my work performance, but the key was to make myself more valuable. As a first year teacher, having a one year only contract, I was terrified it wouldn’t be renewed or that I would not be able to continue teaching. This is where I learned that to succeed in the work place, we have got to be more than the basic job description. I sought out coaching football. I volunteered to become a content team leader. Having these accolades attached to my name added my value to the school at which I teach. This helped me become an asset to the school.
Adding value to a relationship may have been the easiest way for me to build a stronger bond with my partner. If my partner had a problem, I would make it my priority to help her. If she was thirsty, I would run to the store and grab her a drink. On my way home I would call or text her to see if she needed or wanted anything. I soon became a reliable shoulder for her to lean on. This helped our relationship grow exponentially by a mutual desire to please each other.
In my early stages of writing, I did more than just write for myself. I loved to help fellow writers and peer review articles that they were working on as well as make certain suggestions. By helping others, I was able to build a large support network of fantastic writers that I can collaborate and share ideas and articles with. I now have a stable network circle of writers who we all reach out to for support. This made me feel more accepted for my craft and passion.
3 – Trust. Your word is your bond – for my career, relationships and my passion for writing it’s all the same. I had to earn the trust of my colleagues, my partner and my peers. When I said I would do something, I did it. I am not one to talk just to hear myself speak. I am not one to speak of big dreams and promises. If I say I am going to do something, I do it. I follow through. In a word I have heard from all three: reliable. Reliability equaled to trust. It was and is not easy to always follow through and do all the things we say we will do, but if we suck it up, and earn the trust of those who we desire it from, then we have succeeded.
4 – Take responsibility for the mistakes we made and then learn from them – Oh boy did I make more mistakes than I care to remember in my first year of teaching. The key for me, I believe, is that I never made an excuse for any of them. Even if I had a viable excuse to use. I accepted the responsibility for any mistakes I made and I learned from them. Bosses or supervisors anticipate mistakes from all employees, especially those in their first year. While my mistakes may have been frustrating to those above me, they did appreciate and understand that I accepted full responsibility for my actions. I pointed the finger at no one but myself. Finally, I took the time to learn from my mistakes and not to become a repeat offender. My supervisors came to appreciate and even expect that quality in me. If I made a mistake once, they could rest assured it wouldn’t happen again.
While adding value to a relationship is easy, repeating mistakes is not in this realm. I made many repeat mistakes with my partner. However, the best way I felt to repair the bridge was to accept the responsibility of my actions that caused any mistakes. This eased a lot of tension and in return, my partner would often be more willing to admit to her own faults. Relationships are dicey because we often struggle for the upper hand. We test and test our partners and even if we pass a test one day, we may fail the same test again the next day. What helped me with my relationship was to check my ego at the door. I wanted to mold my relationship with my partner in to a solid bond, not a struggle for power. Sometimes I had to give in when I felt I didn’t need to just the same as I felt she did too. Compromise, balance and accepting responsibility for our actions helped open our lines of communication and helped our bond solidify.
Writing was and still is another area where it is tough to accept responsibility for what we produce. Sometimes we struggle to accept the fact that our words simply are not good enough. However, having an open mind and allowing others to be honest and authentic in their critiques is the only way I could grow as a writer. Had I shut out those who offered advice or edits, I essentially would be blocking them from my own progress as a writer. Yet I choose to allow others to give me brutal truth to my words. I took and still take no offense. I accept the responsibility as a writer for what I produce and those who review my work are the back bone of my growth.
5 – Patience – this final tip I can similarly sum up as trust. In my career, relationship and writing, I had to be patient. Success for none of them came overnight. Often from all three I needed to step back and take a moment to breath, evaluate and re-approach each situation with a renewed vigor. My career would not sky rocket to the moon in a day, week, month or even a year. The same goes with my writing. I needed to be patient and work problems out at a reasonable pace without burning myself out or placing too much stress on myself. In the end, patience played a big role in my quest for succeeding authentically.
My relationship with my partner was similar in some regards, but also different. Sometimes space was needed for us both to collect our thoughts and evaluate our feelings. While my feelings came on fast like a freight train, I had to be patient and respect my partner and allow her time to catch up to me emotionally. If I pushed to soon, too hard, the relationship would have crumbled long before the beauty of the relationship could take form.
These five tips helped me go from a trembling amateur to a confident professional and gentlemen without showcasing my insecurities to the world. My transparency was shielded by mindful thoughts and actions that helped me find success in most areas of my life.
I was not great at what I did from the start. I am still today learning more and more about my career, my love and my passion for writing. The difference today in comparison to a few years ago is that today I have the confidence to feel accepted. I feel like I have made it. I am not perfect and I still make mistakes, but today I am not afraid to fail. Today I feel like I am living an authentic life, with no “faking.”
Author: Adam Wilkinson
About Adam Wilkinson: Adam Wilkinson is a high school Social Studies teacher and football coach. He is a firm believer in karma and that everything happens for a reason. He believes the universe has a way of correcting itself or intervening to put us on the correct path. As a very spiritual person, he feeds off the energy of the sun and salt water, believing it heals all wounds—physical and/or emotional. He’s always open to new experiences and re-experiencing the old as there are new lessons to learn everywhere. His mission is to learn or experience one new thing a day, and two new things on the weekends. An introvert at heart, but he is constantly on the move and loves to connect with people. An alumni of elephant journal’s apprenticeship program which inspired him to co-found Unchainedvoice.com. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Instagram and twitter. Find him somewhere and he will happily talk relationships, tattoos, the sun, the moon and the stars and everything in-between with you as he has done with many people already!