I didn’t really know if I wanted to talk about being yourself in this one, or just talking about representing yourself and fighting for what you know you’re worth. So, I decided to just start writing about my story and what I learnt about not just working hard. You can figure out what it means to you.
I grew up with parents who told me the same junk most people get told everyday either by their parents, teachers, friends, family, pet parrot Jennifer, whatever; and that’s this.
“Work hard, and you will make it.”hint, this doesn’t work.
Maybe not in those exact words, but we’ve all heard some variation of this. We grew up either thinking that by putting in the extra hours, our boss Greg, God or whoever our favorite Deity of the month is, would see how hard we are working and grace our lives with opportunity.
Or, we thought we were somehow a little more special than every one else, and that once people caught wind of that subtle little fact, we would hit the spotlight.
When neither of those happened when we entered the job market at the ripe age of 22, fresh out of University with a bachelor’s degree majoring in the arts of knowing sweet nothing about how life works, we’re confused—
Working hard isn’t enough to make it?
The above statement is similar to what Simon Sinek brought up in an interview and called “failed parenting strategies”—I’ll link the video here and recommend you watch it as its got interesting insights as to why millennials and young people are so god damn miserable.
This isn’t to say that our parents sucked, or that they voluntarily fucked up an entire generation of kids; after all, they did the best with what they were given and had known about their reality. But the point it, the “work hard and make it mentality” is flawed in big ways.
I grew up and immersed myself in the idea that I had to work hard and if I did, I would make it; I babied that idea and cuddled it long into sleepless nights of hard work. The idea of working just a bit harder became a sickness and with it, my depression and anxiety blossomed, but I never truly “made it” to the fame an glory I imagined for myself.
My A’s in University didn’t miraculously land me a scholarship I never applied for, my teachers never gave me standing ovation when I finished 1st in my classes, jobs didn’t offer me raises I didn’t fight for, and head-hunters didn’t just find me out of thin air to offer me the job of my dreams; but I was working so hard, what was missing?
Realistically, my mentality was flawed. I was working hard, but I didn’t fight or strive to achieve clear goals. The truth is, hard work alone is not enough—you need to put yourself in the positions you want and you do that through hard work and fighting for yourself.
I had to realize that no one was going to offer me more money unless I fought for it and demanded I be paid what I’m worth—life just doesn’t work that way. I realized that I wouldn’t get my dream job unless I dared to apply to it. And finally, I had to realize that as much as my parents wish I were, I am not particularly special, nor am I a gift from God.
That isn’t to say I don’t have talents and skills, because I do, and so do you. But I had to find the courage to market myself and those talents to the world. Rare are the people that miraculously make it and become “discovered” or who are offered the world just because they “deserve it”. If you are one of those people, more power to you, but celebrity fame and success and saying that hard work alone will get you there, is stupid.
Take it from me, that mentality might make you feel sad and broken just as it did me.
Instead, learn how you fit into the working world, keep working hard, but put yourself in situations where you will fight everyday for what you’re worth—don’t wait for someone else to hand you opportunities, get them yourself.
Once I ditched this mentality, I started working hard for things that mattered. I put myself in the places I wanted to be and fought for the right opportunities.
I stopped churning butter hoping that if I churned hard enough it would turn to gold. I look for gold everywhere I go, but work hard only if I know that I’m working in a direction that leads somewhere and fight every inch of the way.