The following thoughts were inspired by LinkedIn's 15 birthday in May 2018 and the #WhenIWas15 social media trend that accompanied it. As a marketer, I loved following this social media hashtag and seeing everyone participate from college interns to Bill Gates! It was interesting witnessing people of all ages reflect back on what they were doing at 15, what career path they envisioned for themselves, and what they are doing now. These posts, with the dorky candids and high school yearbook pictures attached both humored me and inspired me. Below is my answer to #WhenIWas15.
" When I was 15, I was asked, 'what do you want to be when you grow up?', by a classmate of mine. I answered without hesitation 'a Renaissance Woman.' I always knew that no matter what job I ended up doing, I wanted the ability to continuously learn, be challenged, and have creative freedom. When I look back at 15-year-old Al, I think she'd be happy with where I am today. Working at a small marketing agency gives me the ability to have my hands in a variety of different projects at all times.
I love that I get to work with unique clients ranging from lathe cut gasket manufacturing to advanced 3D metal printing and everything in between. I had no exposure to business-to-business manufacturing prior to working at my current job and it has been a humbling experience working with the incredible manufacturers that play an integral role in our society and are often overlooked. Working in the manufacturing sector has given me a new appreciation for the everyday appliances, transportation, and devices that I previously took for granted. While I have much more I want to accomplish in my career, I am on the path to becoming the Renaissance Woman I desired to be at 15 and that brings me joy."
I thought it was important to share my response to #WhenIWas15 above because often times, it is easy to get caught in the day-to-day of life and what you have yet to achieve. It is true that most people's worst critics are themselves. I know it's definitely the case in my own life. Actually, the day before I wrote the paragraphs above, I was criticizing myself for not launching this blog, something I'd wanted to do for years. My crippling perfectionism was my biggest hindrance and I was frustrated with myself. I couldn’t see the big picture, all I could focus on is why I hadn’t accomplished my goal yet.
By participating in the #WhenIWas15 movement, I learned that looking at yourself through the lens of your 15-year-old self is a powerful tool to assess yourself. It made me realize that my current job was allowing me to grow and learn new skills, which is exactly what I have always wanted from my career. #WhenIWas15 enabled me to look at myself with kindness and feel content with where I am today.
If you are struggling with self-doubt and feeling like you're not achieving your goals, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you actively trying to be your optimal self?
2 Are you doing something every day to work toward your goals?
3. Are you paying your bills?
If you answered 'yes' to all those questions, then your 15-year-old self would be proud of you! Unfortunately, sometimes your goals and milestones don't fit into the timeline you had envisioned. It's great to be laser-focused on creating your ideal future, but it is also important to take a moment and recognize what you are doing well currently. When you are frustrated with your life and the things that aren't happening for you, let your 15-year-old self be your voice of reason. She won't steer you wrong. Do you have a great #WhenIWas15 story? I would love to hear it in the comments section below.