What Am I Good At?

What am I good at?

This is something I began asking myself many years ago when I finished uni and was desperately hunting for meaningful employment in a field I actually wanted to be in.

It’s funny to think that after three years of intensely studying something like English Literature (yep, that’s me) which has little-to-no real-world application, that I would need to ask myself what I think I’m good at; it should be obvious- the self-indulgence of three years of expensive study says as much.

But after being even-worse-than-rejected by every single job I applied for  (i.e. receiving no responses whatsoever) I began to doubt that I actually had anything to offer. Despite years of volunteering, writing, interviewing, and, ahem, receptionist-ing, I was getting nowhere. I began to feel useless. And feeling useless is not the head space in which great things happen.

OR, perhaps it is.

We tell ourselves to be perky do-it-alls and just carry on, but sometimes it actually serves us to wallow in our feelings of helplessness a bit. Not too much, but a bit.

Being in a rut of a situation we’re sick of is usually the point where people go ‘But actually, what do I want to be doing instead?’ and that’s a really good question to ask yourself. It’s helpful to have a goal to keep in mind for your work, it drives you and keeps you accountable to future-you. But it can be super hard to figure out what it is that you want, and instead it’s usually easier to list things you don’t want.

Maybe you know you don’t want to be stuck at a desk for eight hours a day, or you don’t want to talk to people on the phone. We inevitably have to do a little of that stuff even in our ideal lives, but at least deciding particular things are out of the question will steer you towards the places where those things aren’t necessary for you to be able to do a good job.

But while that’s a good method of weeding out the boring bits, do you always want to be reacting to a situation you’re in, learning, ‘yeah, nah, this isn’t it’? How about finding a way to what you want by being proactive, and start with asking yourself, honestly, “What am I good at?”

It’s like putting together a CV- you can say, “I’m good at organising other people”, and “I’m good at connecting people to one another,” or even, “I’m good at talking to people on the phone.”

Even if it’s not specifically for the sake of getting a job, being able to tell yourself the things that you’re good at, the things you can offer- you’re taking a moment to remind yourself that you’re actually super useful and helpful to society. And how good is that feeling?

Often when we work with lots of people from all different ways of life we get used to going between one thing to the next. If I can recommend anything it’s to get into the habit of stopping to take the time to be proud of what you’ve already done.

Just say it to yourself: “I really helped that person on the phone just now,” or, “I pulled off the dopest event,” or even, “I got a freaking degree in English,” because all of those things are just important.

And so I have learned that I am good at asking people what they are good at. It’s a helpful way to steer collaborators and creative partners to figure out their role in a project, and a starting point to the discussion about what they want to get better at.  

So: what are you good at?


- Charlotte Red