Cultivating a sense of belonging and community is what makes us human. Understandably, we want to go where we are loved, embraced, and fully accepted for who we are. And we should.
Although different from our personal lives, we should seek the same standards for ourselves professionally. And perhaps even a step further: we need not actively fear the possibility of not fitting in, or of things not working out how we had planned. Instead, we can shift our thinking and know that something greater is in store when we don’t quite jive with a group or person in our working lives. That’s worth holding out for.
Journeying Through Transition
A few years after graduating from college, I spent 9 months working in the corporate world. Dissatisfied with the role’s lack of creative autonomy and teamwork, I sought a career change and was pleased when I was offered a similar position at a smaller company that, from the outside, appeared to offer everything the other job had not.
It was around this time I read these words: Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated.
At the time, this gave me a desperately-needed perspective shift. It spoke life into me as I sat on the cusp of a new and completely directionless chapter after leaving a toxic work environment. I had been bruised by current circumstances, sure, but had I stayed, I would have been settling for less. That pain would have been far greater than staying where I was never meant to be. Instead, perhaps even subconsciously, I opted for a brighter future wherein I was celebrated for my contributions, not merely tolerated for my presence.
In times since, those words resurface in my mind with a gentle grace, and I still find myself slowly piecing together its intricate layers of truth. It has prompted me to reflect on where I have come from, where I am, and where I am headed. It has shaped my choices so I am better equipped to discern what and who is for me, and what/who is not.
Are You Forcing Relationships?
In reflecting on the aforementioned advice, I have come to find that there’s a difference between a healthy dynamic in a professional relationship or workplace that challenges all parties, and truly forcing the puzzle piece to fit where it was never meant to be in the first place. And that comes down to identifying how opportunities and people fit into your goals, dreams, and visions for your life. Sometimes that changes depending on the season. This can take many forms:
- Know when someone (or something) is no longer serving you or aligning with your plan of action or what you’d like to accomplish. If appropriate, know when to leave.
- Similarly, you should be able to easily identify the value a person brings into your life or to your work. If you can’t, it might be time for an honest conversation with yourself.
- Putting yourself out there can land you some of the greatest opportunities ever. It’s nail-biting, and probably always will be. Even if we’re confident in our skills and talents and ability to do well, sometimes there’s still a small sliver of doubt in the back of your head that you might be inadequate. Be scared and do it anyway.
- If there’s potential for a fruitful relationship, test the waters. Go for it. If it doesn’t work out, move on to the next.
- No one can tell you what your truth is, or how you will arrive at your realization of said truth. That is for you to decide.
Why Does it Matter to Go Where I’m Celebrated?
Eagerness, enthusiasm and hunger is my truest nature. I put my heart and soul into my work — into all aspects of my life, really — and only by being in situations and work settings that aren’t a great fit for me have I realized what I truly want and deserve.
To be clear, going where you are celebrated is not saying that wherever you go, your praises must be sung. Quite the contrary, in fact. It’s an encouragement to be unapologetically authentic and to honor your journey and talents when pursuing new professional relationships and opportunities. Everyone thrives when they’re going for gold in this way. We owe ourselves and our work that much.