5 Simple Ways to Escape Your Butterflies

Q: When you were a senior, did you start getting nervous that you weren’t smart enough to do what you wanted with your career?

A: Of course! I think everyone has felt this same way at some point. Graduating from college is a major transition. You’ve essentially had a full-time job (being a student), for nearly the past 20 years – and all of a sudden things are changing! Don’t worry – it is perfectly normal to have a little ball of nerves in the pit of your stomach!

That said, don’t let your doubts get in the way of the rest of your life. You can achieve your goals in life if you put in the effort – but if you let your doubts keep you from trying new things, you will end up going nowhere.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when the butterflies start to take over and you get that sinking feeling in your stomach:

  1. Your new boss does not expect you to know everything the day you get your diploma.
    The only people who are expected to know everything right off the bat are the ones who have been doing the same thing for 40 years. Those are the people who end up being the boss, not the newest employee. Employers frequently hire new graduates that they believe have the potential for strong growth. As long as you can demonstrate to your interviewer and future boss that you are competent at the basics, and are eager to learn more, you will be fine.
  2. Fake it ’til you make it.
    Confidence is all about attitude. I’ve given a few presentations so far in my career that I really had no business giving. One of them was at a nationwide technical excellence symposium, attended by 100 of our company’s best professionals. My boss asked for volunteers to present, so I sent off a quick email saying “I’d love to help, but I don’t think I have the technical expertise to answer detailed questions.” In the end, my boss and I co-presented. I gave the presentation, and he answered the technical questions. I was so completely convinced I was going to screw up that I had stomach aches for weeks. But in the end, I raised my profile in our company, met dozens of highly capable ‘big wigs’, and realized that sometimes volunteering for something terrifying like that without giving it time to sink in is the best way to operate. Confidence comes with practice. So take every opportunity to practice!
  3. There is always someone smarter than you, but also someone less intelligent.
    If you ever feel like you don’t know anything, remember: you don’t give yourself enough credit. Sure, there was that kid from college who always threw off the curve at the final, went on to become the TA, and won scholarships and research grants like nobody’s business. But he is not your average competition. Chances are he’ll be off getting his Ph. D. and finding a cure cancer, not competing with you for the same jobs (unless you also want to find a cure for cancer, but in that case, the more the merrier!). When you start freaking out over that guy, instead remember that there are a ton of students who slept through class, barely passed the final, and spent senior year testing the alcohol-converting limits of the human liver. You will likely be competing with these goofballs. Breathe a sigh of relief…… now!
  4. Everyone has different skills.
    Identify and develop your skills, and life will be much, much easier. You might be a technical genius – so keep it up! Stay on top of new technologies and developments, and keep your edge. But if you get a little fuzzy when you are getting down to the nuts and bolts of your chosen field, don’t worry. You might have other skills that are equally in demand. Are you organized and a people person? You might make a great project manager. Develop your personal skill inventory and play up your strengths. Figure out what it is that you bring to the table.
  5. Don’t be a pompous jerk!
    Nobody likes an arrogant asshole who flaunts his massive brainpower or hefty bank account. Nobody will like working with him, which will make it quite difficult to get promotions or raises. Essentially, don’t be that guy. Keep your ego in check, please, and the world will thank you. It will help you out later too when you need references for future jobs.

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