Dear Megan: Good for Nothin'?

If you have career or work-related questions of your own, please send them my way! You can submit them on the Dear Megan page. megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantHi Megan,

I'm hoping you can help me with an issue that keeps coming up for me as I've tried to find a career that I really enjoy. I've worked in veterinary medicine for a long time, not as a doctor, but as a receptionist, office manager, and now after some school, as a vet tech. I like what I do well enough, but throughout the years, I've always felt this nagging feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else.

I also don't feel like I'm very good at my job - to me, it's just become a paycheck, and I don't get a lot of praise from my boss. Last weekend, I was talking to my girlfriend about wanting to find a new line of work, and a scary thought popped into my head: what if I'm not really good at anything?

Do you think there are people who just aren't "gifted," as you say? Could I be one of them? 


Good for Nothin'?

Dear Good for Nothin'?,

Thank you for sending your question in - it really warms my heart to receive these letters, and this topic in particular is one that I know haunts many of the people who read this blog. I so appreciate your honesty and the courage it takes for you to look this question dead in the eye.

What if I'm not really good at anything?

This question has kept me up at night as well, and while I don't know your age, I wonder if you might be part of a generation that was told over and over again how special and unique they are. That messaging can create a lot of pressure to then be special and unique in some grandiose, flashy way.

But what if you aren't good at anything? Let's just play around with that idea for a second. What if you, GfN, are just meant to be average at what you do? What if there is no "thing" out there that you're meant to do or achieve?

Sit with that for a minute. How does that idea make you feel? Don't hide from whatever feelings that brings up.

Okay, now ask yourself, "Is the belief that I'm not good at anything really true?"

Is it true that there are people who just aren't gifted?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantIn my humble opinion, the answer is no, GfN. I believe that everyone on this planet has a unique set of strengths, experiences, personality and perspective that sets them apart from others. Forget strengths or gifts for a minute - just look at your preferences, hobbies, or choices you make. They are different from what others prefer, do, or decide.

Now, the whole "you are unique" thread often feels very tired and overdone to me, especially when it's not balanced with "and yet, we are all the same." There has never been anyone born like you, GfN, and yet, your struggles, fears, and joys are universal. These things are both true at the same time.

If the belief that you may not be good at anything still lurks about, it could be because you're trying to fit into a tiny box that says "gifted."

What does it mean to you to be gifted?

It sounds like your definition of that concept might be too limiting. Being gifted doesn't mean any one thing - not everyone will win NBA championships, star in a movie, or make millions of dollars trading stocks. Being gifted can also mean making art that you love, counseling others for little pay, or teaching kids how to read.

Being gifted looks like being energized by what you do and how you do it.

It is not true that you're not good at anything, GfN. That's a lie that your fear, ego, or past pain is manufacturing, and it's gotta go. You don't need to chastise yourself for having those thoughts - they're perfectly normal - but you do not have to let them frame your life anymore, either.

Personally, the process to find my strengths and then live them out in my work has taken time and a lot of patience. It's not something we can really force. When we're ready, there are things we can do to jump-start it, but the treasures within you can be coy after years of being stifled.

As the poet John O'Donohue wrote, "The soul is a shy presence." The essence of you, in all of its giftedness, is something that will become more and more felt as you honor and make space for it.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantYou will remember your giftedness when you listen to your intuition, act with integrity and according to what is true for you, and follow the things that make you feel curious and energized.

Of course, working with a coach or in a group is always helpful and can speed things along, but no matter what, this is a process that you have to go through on your own.

The pressure we put on ourselves to figure all of this out, to "find our passion," creates such a heavy load of stress that it can cripple our own growth and transformation. Try to ease up on that pressure in your own life and simply focus on doing the things I mentioned above.

With diligence and a lot of self-compassion, you will find your way, I promise.

Thank you for your sharing this question, Good for Nothin'?. You are good, period, without needing to be for anything. I hope my response has made you feel encouraged and a little lighter in your step.

Warmly, Megan

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