1. Your mentors, former bosses and co-workers, and your teachers
Other can do two great things for you when it comes to work: they can vouch for you and/or tell you about yourself. You have people who can remind you what you’re good at, where your skills are, and can relay those things to others — you always have this, even when you think you’ve burnt all your bridges. Focus and take care of the relationships and connections that you have, and if people can’t be references, let them be the light in the very dark room that contains that mirror of self-reflection. Ask people what they think you bring to the table, let them tell you about yourself. We criticize ourselves so hard without actually inviting others in to give us real feedback — what’s the worst that could happen? Get more than one perspective on your value; you’re multifaceted, even more so than you realize.
2. Your tertiary hobbies
Molly Young talks about this on a podcast: it’s important to have things you do that are purely for enjoyment and therefore have very little potential to drive you insane, and have big potential to make you a viable, aware individual. They wind you down: crosswords, going for walks, organizing your books alphabetically. And in ways you don’t realize, they give you the value of being a stable person who can take things in stride. So many people are budding crazies, YOLO-ing into another dimension in which nothing exists besides their desires and needs and work preferences. So stay sane, stay occupied, and remember that this sanity is valuable.
3. Your petty expertise(s)
What do you know a little bit about? Do you use Tumblr a lot? Cool, you can blog and *get* the Internet: social media is your skill, petty as it seems. Can you use a computer? Cool, you can become an ‘expert’ at Microsoft word. Throw them on the résumé and get better.
4. Your patterns
You are what you do repeatedly, or something. That’s something ‘they’ say, right? Well, whatever. It isn’t wrong, babe. If you drink over and over again, you’re a drinker. If you reach out to people and tell them in a simple way that you respect them (“Hi, I really respect what you do and admire how you do it”), you’re either smart or a bugaboo, depending on the length of the email. Keep your asks concise and your resilience deep. Stay humble, stay hungry, do the things that help you move a step forward over and over again. You have what you’re willing to do.
5. Your collaborations
Did you work at a store that sold a lot of things? Congratulations, you were a part of that success. Own your experiences, even the small ones. Were you one of the first members of some club that went on to do things? Don’t let that stuff fall away. Everything matters. If you don’t have the experiences yourself, chances are that you’ve been parcel and part to making them possible for someone else. Seek those experiences out for future learning, and keep your track record in your back pocket to show what you (kind of, and that still counts for something) know.
6. Your outlook
Positivity is underrated. I’m a cynical person who is skeptical of everything, but I try to be down. Just being down to hear someone’s ideas is a huge skill, because a lot of people cut others off at the jump. When you’re starting out, just hear people out. Be down to try stuff. You have that in you.
7. Your pliability
Sometimes you have to move for a job. Other times you have to work one job to intern at another. Other times you have to work both jobs to realize it’s not worth it, but that now you have the experience to get one solid job. Be flexible, be pliable. Let things change your environment and be willing to change your behaviors — people will appreciate that, no doubt.
8. Your presentation — a.k.a your damn self
Invest in making yourself feel confident as hell. This might mean makeup, this might mean going weeks without makeup. Perhaps you need to do ten pushups every morning to feel like your best self — do it and do it big. Confidence — the real kind that isn’t born out of competition, but of knowing your inherent worth and dedicating your own time to yourself — is a virtue. It gets you places that you want to go, so stay in your lane, focus on yourself, and present that person to the world. You’re always as capable to learn as you will ever be. You’re always peak. Now go climb.