Sometimes I feel like being in The Company is a lot like my time at Stanford – the difference is that those two years were hard lessons; I’m a learned scholar. People aren’t competition, for instance. “I’m too old to think of anyone that way,” I said with a laugh. Whenever talks with peers steer towards the words ‘confidence’ and ‘competence’ and… ‘The Company type’, to put it simply – a large part of me still wants to rebel. “Of course some parts [requiring improvement] are me,” I said in response to a friend’s query tonight. “But maybe I’m also simply not their cookie cutter type. Over here, for me, being what they want is ‘work’ – I’ve to make conscious effort to be that typical type because I happen to be in a company that cares about those things. Fine. But just because those traits aren’t natural – not inherent – doesn’t mean I’m by default incompetent or ‘wrong’. Our values differ, that’s all. The skills I obtained before joining here – they’re still mine.
I just have to learn to complement them and gain new skills.”
Five months in and I’ll be honest: professionally, nothing feels natural to the point that I struggle to feel at peace with myself. Project engineering especially… internally, I feel like I’m still at war. Everything is ‘work’ and some days I get so frustrated, wondering whether I’m limited by my own limitations or is it where I am, somewhere I feel largely uninspired?
Or worse – a small fish in a big tank?
These days I remind myself often of a friend’s words to me, two years ago. I’d shared with her about what a difficult first year I’d experienced at Stanford. Her reply was, “Think about it this way: would you rather be a big fish in a small pond – or a small fish in a big pond?” I remember smiling upon hearing that; I’d never thought of it that way. “Would you rather stay within your comfort zones, thinking you’re big and great and have achieved so much as you are …or would you rather choose growth – thrive in a setting where you’re constantly challenged thus have to keep defining yourself to keep up?”
I promise (I promise) I’m soldiering on.