I encounter many young people who are vaguely (or specifically) embarrassed about who they are. This insecurity is of course a real challenge when it is time to network or interview.
Sometimes the doubt can be rooted in real concerns, such as when a person feels different in some way – socially, racially, economically, culturally, or sexually. Or they are embarrassed about humble beginnings, or not having gone to good schools or missing out on other formative experiences.
Sometimes a young adult is genuinely “behind” what might be typical for their age because of things they did (or didn’t do) in the past. Their current situation may be the product of unfortunate decisions made along the way. But sometimes they are “behind” just because of the cards they were dealt.
Other times I find young people who I think are perfectly well equipped, yet they feel that their current station in life or set of accomplishments is lacking somehow. Perhaps they are comparing themselves to some unrealistic standard for how impressive or polished a young adult is supposed to be.
All of these situations set the stage for young people to be afraid or clumsy or apologetic when it comes time to seek out and gain life opportunities.
We can help young adults manage those insecurities by emphasizing to them that literally every “successful” person they will encounter has at one time felt different or like an underdog or an outsider. (Perhaps they even feel that way today!) Or they worked their way up from disadvantage somehow. Everyone they will meet has had challenges in their past that they don’t showcase on their LinkedIn profile. And everyone knows, respects, and loves someone who has overcome challenges.
As a young person digests those truths, they can learn to feel significantly less inferior. In fact, they may find that those challenging circumstances, presented skillfully, can become important stories that help them connect with older adults – to gain their respect and interest, and set the table for real conversations and relationship-building.
Let’s help young adults to not be insecure in this way, and to be ready to introduce themselves with their entire life truth on display without apology. With practice, they can turn those life stories into powerful assets that help them along their way rather than holding them back.
Anyone who would like to connect with me or explore these topics more is invited to visit my website at www.otoolecoaching.com.