I was lucky enough to write this post for the BN360 Spotlight awards and I wanted to share it here as well. This is for everyone who is questioning their career, their education, and their purpose in life. So many of us went to school thinking it would be different for us. That we would have the idealistic career, that we were going to stick to our passions no matter what, and that we would show the world what we were made of. And then bills, competition, challenges, relationships, etc. get in the way. Don’t let these challenges fog your perspective. You can absolutely have the life and career that you dream of. The first step is changing your thoughts.

Your Job Is Not Your Worth.

That might sound odd to most people. You’re probably thinking, well wait a second, the first thing I’m asked in a social setting is “What do you do?” Good point. So yes, in society’s eyes your job is pretty close to your identity and therefore worth. At least to the person who’s polite enough to ask you what you do for a living. But I’m here to suggest a different perspective.

When I first graduated college I was determined to find a job that would let me help save the world. I attended a lecture by Bill Nye the Science Guy (Bill Bill!) on climate change my freshman year at Northeastern University and I was sold. I received my degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science so I could launch my Captain Planet-esque career. Luckily I had experienced multiple full-time internships during school which gave me the confidence to succeed at my first full time job. Well, imagine my surprise when that first job out of college ended up being an administrative assistant.

Just so everyone knows, administrative staff are literally super heroes. However, my dream job was to run a non-profit and that opportunity just didn’t seem to be happening. To say that I felt defeated was an understatement. I was supposed to save the world! I was supposed to do something more meaningful with my life than sit in an office. My post-college brain convinced me that I was unworthy of the shiny non-profit jobs that I saw others getting. I compared myself to others and felt totally discouraged.

If you’ve recently graduated college this might be where you find yourself nodding in agreement. But here’s where I shifted my train of thought. It was as follows…

  • Circumstance: Unable to find a job in my desired field of workBN360 Spotlight Professional Lindsay Amico
  • Thought: I am not good enough to find a job in the non-profit world
  • Feeling: Demoralized, anxious, discouraged
  • Action: Do sub-par work while I stare into the abyss
  • Result: Continue to not find my dream job

How I shifted it…

  • Circumstance: Unable to find a job in my desired field of work
  • Thought: I am going to do my part to save the world REGARDLESS of my current job title
  • Feeling: Mobilized, energized, excited
  • Action: Joined the WNY Environmental Alliance board, joined the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and BN360, volunteered at the Clean Air Coalition, took part in actions that had a direct impact on my community
  • Result: Made an impact in my community because of who I am, not my job title

I had thought that I needed the non-profit position to achieve my dreams and make my education worthwhile. But the truth was that I could create the change I desired without the title. All it took was a shift in perspective. Buffalo is full of incredible opportunities and people who can and will connect you to what you care about. Whether it’s a curling league, creating amazing art, or launching your start-up business, the opportunity is there if you can shift your thoughts to find it.

Your job is not your worth. Your worth is your personality, your passion, your energy, your kindness, and your excitement. And I believe when you put that first then your career will follow suit. My administrative career took me to Roswell Park Cancer Institute and there I found my current position as the Reality Check Coordinator to prevent young people from using tobacco products. I’m also the Vice President of the Board for the Clean Air Coalition. I don’t know what will come next but I do know that I will continue to recognize my worth regardless of my job title and allow my passion to lead the way.