I love this quote. It is one of the few I have saved in my phone when I need a little encouragement and perspective. It happens to all of us.
Five years ago, my husband and I moved from Los Angeles to London for his job. I had to leave my career of 10+ years in K-12 education and policy to move abroad. The decision was one we did not make lightly and one of the items we discussed was that I would find a job when we got there. I have worked since I was in high school and did not want to stay at home with kids in a new country. I didn’t know anyone or know anything about the education system in the U.K., but I felt confident my skill set would translate somewhere.
After months of networking and reaching out through 2nd connections, I was coming up short. My lack of knowledge of the U.K. testing system, primary and secondary schooling was difficult to overcome for that world. I was forced to look elsewhere and shift industries or risk not finding anything.
I was terrified. That I wouldn’t have expertise in another industry. That they wouldn’t see the skills I could bring as an asset. I was saddened by the fact that I hadn’t found anything yet and that my first interview didn’t result in a stellar offer on day one.
It is incredible how quickly self-confidence can become self-doubt.
After a few months, I decided to work with an agency. They looked through my resume and discussed putting me forward for project management contracts. I had never been called a project manager before, but my skill set and prior experience actually fit pretty well. On Christmas Eve, five months after moving to the U.K. I received a call for an interview with a transportation company — buses and trains.
The sum total of my knowledge in that industry was the fact that I have been a rider of public and private transport living in Philly, New York City, L.A. and London. That was all.
I went for the interview and was myself. I asked questions. I acknowledged my need to learn about the industry, but also my strengths at building relationships and gathering buy-in.
I have no idea why that interview was a success while all the rest were not. Sometimes that happens with big life changes.
I took the job and a large pay cut from what I had been making in the U.S. I thought if I could get my foot in the door that I would build experience and could work my way back up.
I had no idea that this was a door to my future — A new me. A new world of perspectives and points of view. Of learning new culture and new skills.
When we are so close to the details, it is often hard to see those turning points… those key decisions or openings that shape who we are and can be.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald says “It is never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever it is you want to be.” I always think it should read “It is never too late, or too early, to step through a door and learn who you want to be.” I feel like my life is constantly evolving and who I want to be is growing.
In that job, I learned some impressive dinner party facts about buses and trains, but I learned much more about who I am and what I am capable of. I know that my skills designing and implementing technology systems in public education DO actually translate to transportation operations. I know that I can build powerful relationships in diverse environments to build change and success. After five months, I was promoted to leading a department of the company and the salary to accompany it. The risk has been worth it, but the experience I gained and the knowledge of my own capabilities is invaluable.
I was able to see things that startled me. Feel things I never felt before. And now, because I’ve made these leaps, I am more able to start over again when life goes the wrong way (which it inevitably does — hello 2020!). I love who I am and learning about who I want to be. And I hope it never ends.