Career Puberty. Gross.

Being a woman in my thirties is weird enough. I’m not married and I don’t have kids. So, you know, I’m “different.” I live downtown instead of the suburbs and I like to stay busy at concerts, tailgates, happy hours, networking events, and dinners out. Inside, I still feel like I’m 22. But I know I’ve accomplished and learned a lot in life and career.

I’ve been working in this industry for about seven years. I helped build a company from 12-90 people—including a relocation of office, rebrand, managing multiple teams, doing many roles at once, and continual hiring/needs assessment. I’ve had just about every job offered at agencies (and managed the ones that I didn’t. Well, most.). I had a funded startup. And now I’m running a successful freelance business.

People look at my resume and are so intrigued and impressed with my varied background and all that I’ve immersed myself in. We hit it off when we meet. I offer insight they find valuable. And they want to continue our relationship.

But then what I dread happens—”You’re so great. And, boy, could we use your experience. But this role is just too below you. It’s a waste of your talent. And we definitely can’t afford what you deserve.”

Thanks?

I mean, it is flattering. And I so appreciate that they can see all that I have to offer. But, now what?

I didn’t ask for this awkward phase just like teenagers don’t ask for a pizza face. It just happened when we weren’t looking and there was no way to get around it.

Turns out, I’m too qualified for a lot. Trust me, this isn’t me bragging. It’s a weird place to be.

Like many women, I mildly suffer from imposter syndrome. So, hearing that I’m a “rockstar” (yes, people still use that phrase), is uplifting. Everyone craves recognition for a job well done every now and then. It feels really good when you’re explaining your background and people are smiling, nodding, and are truly dazzled with all you’ve done.

But then I start to downward spiral in other ways. What if someone wants me for a really high-level job? Does that mean I stop learning from mentors or those above me? Because I love being a leader, but I also love learning from outside opinions and expertise. I know I have a lot to teach people with less experience and I’m a natural leader, but what if I’m not as smart as they think I am?

Given the above, I don’t reach for executive-level roles often. Could I do it? Probably. Do I think I should? Eh, I guess it depends on the company, level of seniority throughout, and the type of work they’re doing. But for most of the places I’d be shooting for, it’s not my top priority.

So, what’s a gal to do? For now, I’m freelancin’ muh face off and building my portfolio as large as I can. I’m taking on really interesting clients that are willing to try new things. And I’m surrounding myself with the smartest people I can find.

What advice do you have? Have you been in this awkward stage? Help.

Sam works in advertising/marketing by day and moonlights with startup consulting, dating profile overhauls, and event planning. She lives in Columbus with her two dogs and spends her free time writing, drinking coffee and local beers, getting zen with yoga, catching a good concert, and laughing with friends. She doesn't give a shit if you're offended by lewd language, so #dealwithit.

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