Throughout my life, I’ve been known for a few things. I’m known for being petite, having wavy hair and usually for being smart. My parents raised me well and I worked hard to excel in high school, get into a good college and (try to) do well in life. So I did. But now that I’ve been in the “real world” for a few years, I can’t help but feel marginally stupid sometimes.
I currently work in the field of search engine optimization and online marketing, and I also do a lot of freelance writing as well. Some might think these are “easy” jobs, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. There are things I’m naturally good at, like writing, being creative, executing projects, etc.- and those are all huge parts of my jobs, which I love. I mean, those strengths I have are what got me my past and current jobs. But at the same time, there is the side of analytics, reporting, spreadsheets and math that I’m, well, not-so-great at. A recent semi-stressful project has brought this self-described weakness to my attention more than I would like it to.
You’d laugh if you knew I took AP Calculus in high school and got a 98 for an average. Or that I actually did well in math throughout school and college, despite the stereotype that women who are good at English are bad at math. But when it comes to calculating crazy formulas on large Excel spreadsheets to give upper management that magic number they are looking for, I can’t help but feel slightly stupid.
When a coworker and I have a similar task and his spreadsheet comes out perfect and mine lacks sufficient data, I feel stupid. When the big-shots are talking numbers and mention all these crazy acronyms I’m not familiar with, I feel stupid. I feel like I’ve failed as an employee and that everyone else looks down on me because of it.
I’m being hard on myself, I’m aware. I know I’m not stupid. I have many strengths that others in my field or office don’t, and I truly hope those strengths help me succeed and stand out. I work hard to ask for help when needed and to spend more of my time focusing on the areas I’d like to improve on. But you can only do so much when the constant negative s-word is floating around in your head.
Have you ever felt stupid in a work situation? What did you do to help fix this thinking?