Updated: Feb 19
I never considered myself acrophobic. I ride roller coasters, climb up ladders, and book hotels rooms on the highest floor. Contrary to my own belief, I went rock climbing for the first time on Valentine’s Day and I learned something new. I was completely terrified.
In my defense, it was not the height I was afraid of after climbing only 5 feet off the ground. I was fearful of letting go. Now mind you, I was perfectly fine with climbing back down. It was the falling back down that triggered my nervous system. I knew of countless studies and research on this phenomenon. I just never considered myself to be a subject. But there I was, less than halfway up the rock wall, having a full-blown panic attack, next to my partner on Valentine’s Day. Romantic.
In true Shanon fashion (because my mind is always ready to construct a compelling story), there I was, clinging for dear life against the wall, analyzing all the reasons why I could let go and fall to the ground. My childhood upbringing, a car accident I was involved in driving down a North Carolina mountain during a snowstorm, the stuffed animal I lost and never found at five years old. All these senseless thoughts (I mean, excuses) flooded my mind until three whole minutes had passed, and I was still on that wall. I even looked around me and saw small children, no older than five years old, climbing more difficult courses! I mean, what??! I was both impressed with them and ashamed of my fear, one I didn’t know I had until yesterday.
What does this have to do with job-seeking, though?
Well, while I was on that carefully simulated rock wall, I thought about the career pivot I am currently making in my life. I thought about the fears of the unknown. I thought about the arduous tasks of applying to jobs, praying for interviews, and networking outside of my comfort zone to learn about a new industry. I thought about the need to make myself more visible on these social platforms to share the value I bring to it.
More importantly, I thought about how I’ve never been afraid to embrace change and how I’m not easily embarrassed when I don’t know how to do something. I thought about how I’m not afraid to be quiet and observe until I have something meaningful to contribute. And how I’m never afraid to learn. These skills may seem soft, but they are profound, and I am leaning on them to help me navigate this shift in my career and life. I owe it to me to place myself in spaces where I can grow and evolve (and be scared while doing it).
So, yes. I eventually learned to let go of the rock wall while awkwardly falling back down to the ground. I climbed back up again and fell back down as many times as I needed to make it to the next course. Ultimately, that is what we are all in this space to do – learning how to perfect our falls.
As career professionals and job seekers, we have to possess certain traits to be successful on this journey. We have to have thick skin. We must learn and grow without taking things personally. We must be willing to be novices again and again! And that's the beauty of it all.
So, if you see me out here in these LinkedIn streets, feel free to engage! I am looking forward to it!