Monday, May 17, 2010

The "Job Market Sucks And I Don't Know What I'm Doing" Syndrome

I'm paranoid. Each time my phone rings, each time I see a new email in my inbox, each time a partner pops his head into my office, I think I'm being fired.

I attribute my constant fear for my job to the deadly combo of knowing there are very few jobs out there, living through the current recession and feeling constantly inadequate. I love my job. I LOVE it. But sometimes I feel like I don't deserve it. I feel like I'm such a drag on the firm because I require constant hand holding. I make a lot of mistakes and I can barely, if ever, meet my billable hours. I feel like there is a job axe murderer out to get me. And anyminute, my career is going to be hacked to pieces. A part of me thinks that I only feel this way because all the partners seem constantly busy and stressed out lately. They all seemed stretched to capacity. As a result, there is little room for my error and even less room to stop and ask them for guidance.

The looming feeling that disaster is around each corner is grating on my nerves. It's this constant sickness that silently eats away at my confidence and my gut. I feel unworthy. And I can't help but think that any minute my bosses will also realize this fact. Then I worry about what will happen if I do lose my job. I could never get another job in this market, not without more experience. I'd have to go into laon forebearance again. I'd have to sell all my clothes to feed my kid (oh tragedy! Not the Frye boots!)- ok, it's not THAT drastic, my husband has a very stable job- but I'm a worry wort. It's what I do.

I've come to accept that all I can do is my best. I have to hold my head up and just focus on the tasks right in front of me. I have to hope that the partners will not focus on my inadequacies and my mistakes but, rather, see me for my dedication, hard work, and passion for litigation. I have to convince myself that this paranoia is all in my head. One good thing about this paranoia is that it sure as heck makes me appreciate my job.

Most importantly, I have to realize that I, just as much as anyonelse, deserve my chance to grow into my new role. At one point in time, all superstar lawyers were in the very position that I am currently in. After all my hard work in lawschool, as a summer associate, and studying for the bar, at the very least, I deserve a chance to prove myself, right?

Today especially, I needed a little extra boost. So, when picking out my outfit for work today (which, thankfully happened to be casual day), I donned on my "power piece." A power piece is that one piece of clothing that makes you feel completely unstoppable and confident. It lets you be you, without apology or reservation. Ok, some of you may just cringe at this next part power piece is..... my cowgirl boots! Yup, cowgirl boots at the office! I wore them with my Paige jeans, matching leather belt with fancy beltbuckle and a fitted button up shirt from Banana Republic. In spite of the curious sidelong glances from people in the elevator, I felt totally awesome all day long. I felt like I could kick major butt! It jsut about canceled out all my career fears and paranoias.

You know what? There is nothing better in the world than to feel comfortable in your skin, without any reserve, knowing your outward self reflects your inner self. (I may have just met my weekly philosophical quota).


je said...

Love it! I'm sure everyone at your job is too busy admiring your boots to even think about giving you the boot. (Couldn't resist.) My power piece was a HOT pink hat (the ugliest baseball hat you'd ever seen), but I sadly left it in Guatemala and nothing I've ever owned since could replace the hole it left in my self-confidence.

Portia said...

Girl I expect nothing less than the cowgirl boots for Miss Cee!

I know what you mean about the power piece - I have some serious stilletos that make me feel tall (gasp!) and powerful. Love it.

And nothing beats jeans at work. I am going on vacation over Memorial Day and I just know they're going to institute a jeans day the Friday before. Bummer.

On the other issue, you've got your head on straight. I think realizing you don't know anything is a sign of wisdom. It will get better - one day you'll be doing something and realize, "Hey, wait a sec - I didn't know how to do this when I started this job and now look at me go!"

Downsized Attorney said...

It sounds like you're actually in a very good position. I learned the hard way that not having enough work is a very bad thing. The other attorneys you work with know that there is a VERY steep learning curve for new lawyers. Law school really doesn't teach you how to practice law, you learn that by doing exactly what you're doing now. You make mistakes, you learn from then and you move on. It's when you keep making the same mistakes that people will start to loose their patience with you and question your worth to the firm. Just keep you head down and keep up your amazingly positive attitude.

Tree Hugging 2L said...

Your job seems to be pretty stable. They seem pretty nice & understanding - and I have no doubt that, with those cowboy boots, you'll be unstoppable. Not to mention - I would like your fictional romance with the associate to continue! ;)

Anonymous said...

I want you to go buy yourself a second pair of power cowboy boots, keep them in the office, and secretly wear them whenever you are sitting at your desk. :D

Proto Attorney said...

I feel that anxiety sometimes too. Whenever the boss calls me into his office, I feel like I'm getting called to the principal's office and getting expelled. Even though the conversation is actually, hey, can you cover this hearing tomorrow, or I need research done. I dunno why I feel that way, but I do. I think the boss caught on to my anxiety too, because he's started coming into my office instead when he needs me to do something. I also started to freak out a couple weeks ago when he had a long meeting with a financial adviser and was pulling out financial records from the accounting desk. I'm like, oh god, he can't afford me, he's going to fire me. So far, not fired. It's stressful though, I agree, knowing that we're damn lucky to have the jobs we do, and if our jobs went away, we'd be desperate to find something anywhere near comparable. But if you guys are crazy busy, that's a good thing.