I knew the first day I started working in media that I had made a mistake.
In truth, I had picked my two majors in college because of two classes I liked, not because it’s what I wanted to do with my life.
I was confused. The trouble was I had no idea how to articulate this, nor did I have another plan.
“Hey Mom and Dad, about that $100,000 you just spent on my college education,” didn’t seem like the best place to start.
I didn’t see any other option than to keep doing what I was doing, plus I was getting paid, so I stayed put.
A few months later my boss announced I’d won an award for National Sales Assistant of the Quarter.
“Huh?” I thought.
I honestly assumed it was a mistake. I was good at filing orders, answering phones and keeping my desk organized, but I was pretty sure that didn’t warrant an award.
It reminded me of the time I won the peace poster contest in third grade. My drawing consisted of a white girl and a black girl, both glorified stick figures in triangle-shaped dresses. They were holding hands and a big red balloon together, which had a peace symbol on it.
(My drawing skills have not evolved since this time.)
When the principal called my name, I remember looking over my shoulder. They called my name twice before I stood up.
I was informed that my poster would be hung at City Hall and I’d receive an award from the mayor. For my child self, this felt like the equivalent of meeting the President.
Fast forward to 2003: I was sure this was another mistake. I looked at my other boss (I had two), and she was smiling at me like a proud mom. I received a $300 bonus before tax. It helped me pay my rent, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting as meeting the mayor.
In truth, this was the first time I realized I could get paid more money for being a perfectionist. I worked harder as a result and received constant praise for how I handled clients, but I never won the award again.
It may have had something to do with the fact that I was often five minutes late to work, which my boss really didn’t appreciate. Telling him I waited until the last possible second to get up each morning because my soul was suffocating didn’t seem worth it.