Carolyn Hax: Job seeker trying a new career feels like a fraud

Carolyn Hax: Job seeker trying a new career feels like a fraud

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Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Caroline: I lost my job last year in a field that I loved. I am now applying for positions that I have never held before, but I hope I have something to contribute. The problem is that I am terrified to the point that I think I will fail and I am being a fraud for going this route. I’m middle-aged and part of me says it’s time for a change, but I sure am scared. Any help and suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Fraud?: Wait a second. He is applying for jobs that he wants to do and would take if he had them. Good, so far. If you get the job, you will do the job to the best of your ability. Well, there too. If you can’t do the job, your new employer will train you, reassign you, or let you go. That is also part of the process.

As long as you represent yourself honestly on job applications, where is the fraud?

Now I understand the fear. Change is difficult. But that’s for everyone, not just you. And the most important thing to be afraid of, for me, is to listen to the fear, to allow it to talk you out of trying. That is the scariest result there is.

So you’re doing very well from what I can tell. You are afraid and you still try. In certain circles, that’s rude, indeed. Good luck with your search.

Hi Carolyn, Oversharing has been a problem for me for as long as I can remember, and while I was hoping to get better at doing crazy things like listening and asking people questions, showing interest in them first, etc., I feel like it regressed a bit during the pandemic. I see someone and it’s like PEOPLE! MUST SHARE LIFE STORY!

Like I said, better than a few years ago when I was wondering why I wasn’t making friends (because much later I realized I talked ALL THE TIME), but I keep making mistakes and it’s embarrassing. This is probably a combination of anxiety, deep loneliness, and a longing to connect. But I’ll never connect if I make it all about myself! I tried (with a counselor) to literally plan what topics to cover at what stage of meeting people, so as not to scare them off, which I then forget to do. It’s like I’ve become a babbling Energizer bunny.

I can’t shut up: When you know you need conversational help, just ask for it: “I don’t mean to, but I can just go with the flow and share my whole life story as soon as someone says ‘Hi’; don’t hesitate to control me. in.” When you get up front, the other person doesn’t have to wonder how to handle their side of the issue. It can even be endearing, but you have to mean it when you encourage people to interrupt you.

If you still find yourself, oh no, 10 minutes into a story about yesterday’s leftover sandwich, then defuse the situation yourself by interrupting your own story. “See what I mean? I’m serious, let’s think about a ‘Stop talking now!’ hand signal.” Show them that you won’t take it personally if they physically separate you from the third half of the story you’re telling. Make it part of the fun of getting to know you.

There may also be things you can do on your own time (meditation, reading, yoga, journaling, pen pals) to help you feel more grounded and calm in general.

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