After feeling the pressure to get a job right after I graduated college, I learned an unexpected but important lesson in the “real world”: know your self-worth and stand firmly by it.
A Short-Lived Rest Period
I’ve always been a busy-bee. I’m the kind of person that goes a little stir crazy when I don’t have something to work on after a while. Right after I graduated I didn’t worry about too much. I wasn’t sending my resume out to anyone just yet, I wasn’t stressing over post-grad life, and I stumbled across Kathryn Schwarzenegger’s book “I Just Graduated … Now What?: Honest Answers from Those Who Have Been There.” It was a nice reminder that other college graduates are taking that time period to explore what path is right for them. And another reminder that, “Hellooo no one else has it figured out at 22. So, relax Sam.”
That lasted about one week. I knew I wanted to pursue acting and screenwriting, and even the idea of starting this blog was in the back of my mind, but I suddenly felt the pressure of needing to get a job ASAP. The more people asked, “So, what are your plans now?” or “So, what do you plan to do with your degree?” I felt it piling on. I felt like if I wasn’t doing something, I was just wasting my time.
So, I quickly jumped onto the computer and started submitting my resume to everything I was remotely interested in. Any kind of writing job you could think of, I applied to it. Eventually, I landed a writing job that was mainly remote with an in-person check-in once a week or every other week. I thought that sounded great! It was a nice part-time job to start with that would still allow me to pursue my other creative endeavors.
One of my first assignments was to do product descriptions. Simple enough, right? They wanted you to make each one similar yet different, not too long yet not too short, and don’t use the same three words in a row so there would no confusion with plagiarism. Needless to say, I was calling my advisor saying that the amount of product descriptions they wanted me to do by the end of the week (we’re talking in the hundreds) it seemed nearly impossible. This was far from the part-time work-from-home job I was described upon getting hired. It took up enough time to be a full-time job. They told me I was doing it wrong and spending too much time on each description. After a few pointers and tricks of the trade I felt like maybe I had a handle on this.
Cut to a few months later: I was drowning. By this time, I was not only getting calls at abnormal working hours to do something that wasn’t related to the job I was hired to do, like Photoshopping photos, I was running multiple social media accounts, and still doing writing assignments. Well…it all came tumbling down with one writing assignment. When I was told to go in and take over for another writer and do descriptions exactly how she did them, I did as I was told. 700 product descriptions later, the company says the descriptions for each product are too short and it’s my job (and on my dime) to go back and fix it. Even though they are just as long as the first writer’s descriptions, they don’t care. When I say that I don’t have time to do that by the deadline and it was their fault for not clarifying the first writer did them wrong, they tell me I have to complete the job or I won’t get paid for any of it.
Manipulation At Its Finest
Did I mention the writers here get paid by the hour? And by the hour I mean by how long THEY think it should take for you to finish a project? Yes, something that wasn’t told to me during the beginning of starting this job. When I tried to communicate the frustration, they basically told me in so many words that I was dispensable as a writer. I wasn’t going to get paid if I didn’t do as they say, and would only get paid probably half of the hours that it took me to actually complete the job. At this point, it felt like manipulation at its finest.
Recognizing My Self-Worth
That’s when I knew. I am worth more than this. I knew that my skills were an asset, whether that company realized it or not. And I knew that on some level, I was being bullied into getting paid way less than what I deserved to get. Any company, person, or project that doesn’t see what you bring to the table and who more or less thinks of you as dispensable, is not worth your time or energy. Know your self-worth and stand firmly by it.
The Inner Fear Voice
Sometimes walking away can make you feel like you accomplished nothing; I know I felt that way. But what you accomplished on one path is not a measure of your self-worth. Walking away doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you stronger for recognizing your own personal value. And in a different light, you might actually have accomplished a better sense of self-worth in the process. Quiet that inner voice that tells you you’re a failure if you walk away. That inner voice is just fear talking.
Don’t Settle for Quantity over Quality
I knew in the end that it wasn’t worth drowning in a job I hated and who didn’t value me just because I allowed myself to feel pressure to get a job. In turn, I didn’t want to work for a company who took on a quantity over quality attitude and didn’t create a supportive and encouraging work environment. Any single person or company who is manipulative like that doesn’t deserve to be in your life, work-wise or personal. Always remember that you are unique in your own way and if you work hard, you are not dispensable.
Have you ever gone through something similar? Let me know in a comment below by scrolling to the bottom!