A couple birthdays ago, I went shoe shopping. (Free advice: don’t buy shoes on a milestone birthday.) I was feeling a bit rebellious, which led to stilettos-that-shall-not-be-named. I was pumped (pun intended), and ready to start my new, more glamorous life.
But here’s the thing. I’m much happier in my Friday shoes.
I’ve never actually worn the aforementioned heels because they just don’t feel right. They technically fit, and I like them, but more in a “wow, those shoes look awesome on her” kind of way. Kind of like when I see a super-confident extrovert at a networking event, with people lining up to shake her hand. I admire that, but it’ll never be me.
Sure, I could teeter around in those shoes for a while, but at the end of the day, I’ll probably have sore feet and blisters–not the glamorous persona I was striving for.
In one of my first jobs (before we used email for everything), I had to cold call nonprofit donors and ask them to buy our special holiday donation cards instead of sending gifts to their clients. It was a great program, and I actually sold some cards… but it was probably because the poor souls felt sorry for the awkward, stammering mess (me). I could not be worse at cold call sales, and it’ll be a cold day in you-know-where before I willingly do it again.
Cold-calling and willingly being the center of attention are like my stilettos–I can’t get out of there fast enough. Mercifully, we now have better ways to build relationships (thank you, social media).
The point of all this clodhopper clamor is that you can build your skills and learn new things to a point, but some things you just can’t fake. And even if you can, you’re probably not going to be very happy for the duration. Instead, embrace what you are good at.
If you’ve ever felt bad because you’re just “not a people person,” read Quiet by Susan Cain. While exploring inborn differences in personalities, she gives practical advice for not just surviving, but thriving in your work.
A good closet-cleaning also works wonders. Get rid of the “if I just lose 5 pounds” pants already, and fill your closet with things you feel awesome in right now. Look at your work to-do list. What do you put off? Chances are, it’s something that doesn’t quite fit, but it has to be done. Maybe it’s calling members of your organization. Is there someone outgoing who might like a change of pace? Maybe a receptionist, intern or recent college grad would welcome a task that allows them to talk with new people.
Instead of envying someone else’s shoes (read: talents), spend that energy improving your mind. Read. Learn new things. Try a new approach to your dreaded task(s), or just stop doing them. Would anyone notice or care? Some of my previous to-do list offenders were self-inflicted. When I stopped doing them, you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.
p.s. If you’d like a lovely pair of never-been-worn peep-toe heels, size 9, they’re free to the first taker. Seriously. (Will deliver in Frederick, MD, or ship to continental U.S.) The only condition? You have to feel awesome in The Shoes. And maybe send me a photo.