A few weeks ago, a friend suggested that I’ve been “hiding” for years.
Not hibernating, which implies a conscious decision to withdraw or be in seclusion.
But hiding. In plain sight. Careerwise, that is.
He observed that I had subconsciously placed myself at the periphery, yet longed to jump out from the shadows and into the action. I hadn’t fully stepped into the role of what I love to do: communicate with emotion to connect with others.
In short, concealed inside “Account Amy” was “Creative Amy.”
He told me it was time to stop hiding.
This was a profound statement and absolutely spot on. But it still caught me off guard.
Because I genuinely like and work well with people, becoming an account person was a no brainer. I excelled at it, so I naturally progressed in that arena. It was safe. But the more I managed projects, budgets, and people, the less I got to express and contribute creatively. Not good.
For years I waged an internal debate with myself, questioning why I had the audacity to think I could pull this creative thing off. I suffered (and still do, at times) from imposter syndrome.
But whenever I went back to being businesslike Account Amy, I felt like every day a little bit of me was dying inside. By contrast, Creative Amy is energetic and engaging. She’s positive. And way more me.
I knew that if I felt this way, then surely there were others who were in the same boat.
So, I’d like to ask if you, too, might be hiding.
Before you say no, consider if any of the following statements ring true:
- You’ve always dreamed of becoming a (fill in the blank), but haven’t actively pursued it for one reason or another.
- The reasons you haven’t pursued it are that it isn’t practical, it’s too late, or you tell yourself what you’re doing now is good enough (when in fact you feel deep in your bones that it is not).
- When you speak about your (fill in the blank), you’re animated and excited; when you talk about what you do now, you are not.
- You’re doing fine professionally, maybe even exceptionally well, but you still feel that something’s missing.
- Your life is good by most standards, yet you’re still unfulfilled.
Sorry, but my bet is that you’re hiding.
Here’s how to move out of the shadows and towards what you actually want:
Is it a “No” or “Hell, yeah!”?
I can’t remember where I first heard this, or to whom it’s attributed, but I love this question. When considering a new (or existing) opportunity ask yourself how you feel about it: is this something you’re not very excited about (“No”) or it is something you’re completely pumped up about and can’t wait to tackle (“Hell, yeah!”)? Your answer should provide some clarity as to which direction you should head.
Seek the Guidance of a Trusted Friend or Mentor
Those that know us best view us through completely different lenses than we see ourselves, and (spoiler alert) are often much kinder and more honest. If you’re unsure about your next step, confide in a friend or mentor who will talk you through the disconnect between where you are now and where you want to be. They’ll likely be part cheerleader and part taskmaster, reminding you to be honest with yourself about what you want.
Listen To Your Gut
Ever have a nagging feeling that it’s time to move on from a job, even if, on paper, the job is fantastic?
A friend of mine says he knows he’s veering too far from what he wants to do when a little voice in his head shrieks. Though the signs may be more subtle, your intuition will tell you when something seems off; it’s best to listen.
I’m happy to say that I’ve (finally) taken my friend’s advice to stop hiding. I’ve fully embraced Creative Amy, so you’ll be hearing a lot more from her.
Coincidentally, yesterday I was invited to be part of an industry panel to share the best career advice I’ve ever received.
That’s easy: stop hiding.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn.
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Originally published at medium.com