Dear First Gen,
It’s hard to believe, but this November, I am celebrating one year since I accepted a position as a #MentalHealth advocate. As I began this new step in my career, I wrote posts for success in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on a new job. All of those suggestions are still relevant and I continue to practice them each and every month. As I look back, it's clear that I've come a long way, but I still have plenty to learn.
Top Things I’ve Learned –
1. Know what's expected of you, and use your existing skills: I knew when I accepted this job that it was going to require a lot of reading, but I was not aware of exactly how much. My role requires me to read as much as I can to keep track of the actions of various legislators and stakeholders who may develop laws or regulations that could impact the level of care and access a mental health patient receives. I am constantly reading news articles, reports, newsletters, and emails. Fortunately, my previous positions required me to read similar material and I have learned how to distill this information so I can relay it efficiently and accurately to coalition members and partners.
2. Know that you will make mistakes: As a first gen who strives for perfection, I have gradually become comfortable with making mistakes and learning from my errors and confusion. Growing up, my parents expected me to always be the best student, and I rise to the challenge of being a 5-star employee as well. My learning curve in this new position was short and it did not take me too long to learn the terminology and industry culture. But sometimes, I still struggle. Although I prepare for the meetings I lead, I often still need a pep talk from my supervisor beforehand and a follow-up to discuss what went right and wrong.
3. Learn from constructive criticism: I wish I could say that I followed my own advice about not taking feedback and criticism personally, but I had a difficult time separating constructive criticism about my work from remarks about me as a person. While there were times I received an honest critique to make me a better mental health advocate and to improve on my weaknesses, my passion and work ethic interfered with my ability to receive and implement the feedback objectively without seeing it as a personal attack. Luckily, I have a strong tribe that helps me remain calm and see the positives of having supervisors who take a considerable amount of time from their schedules to discuss the reasons behind their opinions. Our meetings create an open, honest environment where I can learn how to be better at my job and exceed expectations. As I am given information on how to improve, I am learning what they pay attention to the most and how to focus on those things a little more so that I can be conscious of if or when I might make the same mistake.
4. We all fight similar battles: Being a mental health advocate for this past year has challenged me and allowed me to become aware of the anxiety, depression, and fear facing first-gen professionals. You battle your own expectations every day: You may want to consume so much information to be successful that it intensifies your worry and takes you away from activities you enjoy. You want to be the absolute best, but when it does not happen how you envisioned it, you may doubt if you are qualified and capable. You want to present a solid product on every project, but when it does not end up that way, you wonder if you are in the right field or whether you should transition into a role that fits your talents and gifts better.
These thoughts and lessons cycle in and out on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. As a first gen, I contemplate these emotions at the beginning and end of each day, but I've realized that they may even be common among all young professionals, not just first gens.
What I have discovered is that it is important to acknowledge my thoughts and then reframe them so that they are helpful. Yes, I am worried. But it is a new experience and I am still adding value because of my experience that is different from others. My past experiences influence my current responsibilities and help reduce the time spent doing them so I can focus on my priority tasks. I belong here because I bring a different perspective and can shape a new way of thinking and set of procedures.
Listening to myself and the feedback from others has been key over the past year and I am grateful to have reached this juncture to recognize how it is essential to rise.
***Disclaimer: 2018. All rights reserved. All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. No reproduction of any content on the website without the express permission of the author. The text, pictures and videos are the sole property of FirstGenRise.