As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m starting a new job in January that is quite far out of my “field”. I keep throwing around the word “field” as if I’ve been employed for decades and have reached a level of knowledge and technique that would suggest that I am an expert. What I really mean by “field” is basically that I’ve been generally working for non-profits (specifically museums) for most of my “career” and since I’m not sure I “know” how to “do” anything else, my “field” is museum education.
A note on the quotation marks – I just feel so uncomfortable speaking about what I believe to such grown-up, vast, grand concepts such as career and field and qualifications. Even though I’ve amassed five years of post-graduate employment (and plenty of years of working while in school), I still often feel like a newbie. Is this common? Or is my growth stunted?
I digress. What I’m starting to grapple with now, as the reality of my job shift is setting in, is the question of whether I can excel at something new. I know that I am bright and resourceful and possess a fair modicum of the Protestant work ethic I was born with (the parts that Twitter hasn’t eroded away yet…) and yet I fear that being so far out of my depth is going to end in disaster, or even worse, boredom.
To help brace myself for the change, I’ve been obsessively reviewing my new employer’s website, reading news updates, and trying to make myself as knowledgeable as possible about my boss, to at least give the impression of competency. I’ve also been spending a little time researching possible graduate program options, to remind myself that part of the reason for taking this job is giving myself the option to go back to school. Despite all my rational preparations, I can’t help feeling nervous.
Ultimately, I think this comes back to the fact that, in many ways, I’m not as confident as I was in my early 20s. During the end of college and my first few years following, I felt so brazen and ready for anything. I jumped into a job that I was woefully underqualified for – luckily, my sink or swim instincts kicked in and it worked out quite well. Perhaps because I’ve done a bit more sinking since then, I’m a little worried my instincts might be rusty.
Any advice, readers?