Does My Career Determine My Self Worth?

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Written by: Epiphany Ciers

New expectations have begun to haunt women each day. In a world, full of Elaine Welteroth’s, Bozoma Saint John’s, and Sophia Amoruso’s — we feel the pressure to be our own badass career woman. 

Scrolling through our social feeds to find these amazing women living out their dreams has altered our reality. Though encouraging and liberating for women in this generation, it can also be discouraging. Quotes such as “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” can become discouraging to some when you’re constantly working towards choosing the job you love but you remain stuck in the job you have. You begin to look at yourself and start to believe that you must be doing something wrong (even though you're doing everything in your power to do everything right).

We are hungrier than ever to accomplish our goals and to take the career world by storm. Yet, our expected achievements don’t meet our timelines. We have done everything we can, from cold emailing to going door to door, but somehow, we can’t quite get to the girl boss level we’ve been working our ass off for.  Some of us, such as myself, have played it by the book and have gone to college to retrieve that fancy (and expensive) piece of paper. 

Now what?

After graduation, I acquired a job that most people would consider “a dream job”. And it was — until I hit a wall. I began to realize that I was not going to learn more than I was taught and a promotion was not coming my way for a while. I felt stuck and devalued. I knew in order to get to the place I wanted to be professionally, I had to make a change. I quit my job, packed up my bags, and moved back home with no job in sight. I took a leap of faith as all the enthusiasts like to encourage dreamers to do. Little did I know, this would be a full year of doors being slammed in my face.

"I knew in order to get to the place I wanted to be professionally, I had to make a change."

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Months of applications, cold emails, networking, and going door to door turned into days of no callbacks and “you’re just not the right fit for us”. Other than the retail job I had to get me by — I was practically jobless. After a year of being jobless, I hit rock bottom and depression began to flood my veins. Was I not good enough? I had several internships in the past and over 2 years of professional experience yet I was not worthy enough to be hired. 

The lack of success in my career hit me hard. I have always been labeled the go-getter and people looked to me for career advice. I felt my expectations and the expectations of others weigh down on me. Family, friends, and everyone around me saw my constant success for years and when I no longer had that, my identity faded. I realized that I correlated my worth with the success and pace of my career.

I had no desire for a love life, I happily accepted my singleness, and my career became the love of my life — this was my happy reality. Believe it or not, the Sex and the City and Cashmere Mafia lifestyle was #goals for me. Through this year of being jobless, I began to love myself less. What I valued most about myself was non-existent. If I’m not good enough to get a job after a full year, was I good enough at all?

At exactly a year, I finally got hired.

It wasn’t the job I dreamed of but it was a good start. Though back on my feet — I still felt incomplete.

This job did not match my vision. I molded a perfected version of my career since I was a young girl and that dream began to slowly slip away along with my worth. The power woman I thought I was and could potentially be slipped away with my lost worth.

Though I’d given up on myself, I knew that I would hate myself forever if I didn’t try picking myself back up. I couldn’t let my career slide to the waste side. After a month of feeling down – I picked myself back up and decided to keep moving forward. My career isn’t over and I am still worthy.

I began attending networking events again, cold emailing my career idols, and searching for freelance work that would help me stand out during my future job searches. I realized that I could never give up on myself and my dreams. My success does not determine my worth. Most importantly, I had to make opportunities for myself. Your current full-time money making job might suck but don’t limit yourself to that primary source of opportunity. Use your current sucky job as a stepping stone for something better. Make a gradual plan to your dream job and reach out for outside opportunities to spruce up your resume and to gain more experience in the meantime. That’s what you call grinding.

My success does not determine my worth.

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Word of advice to ladies who are out there making it — share your struggles with others so that your fellow go-getters won’t feel alone. We need to know that this feeling won’t last forever.  That’s more encouraging than cheesy quotes and fantasy pictures. For the ladies who are still trying to make it—think smart, keep working, and don’t lose sight of yourself when your dreams begin to break your heart.

And yes — one of my dreams was to write this very article for this amazing organization. If I can do it, you can too.

Epiphany Ciers is a Houstonian tackling the world of fashion. From writing to creating content, Epiphany has her hands in everything. Though determined to make it in the fashion world, Epiphany also has a passion for encouraging and motivating women. Follow her on IG @epiphany.ciers as she navigates the fashion industry and explores the world around her. 

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