At what point do we feel comfortable taking ownership of a title, or identity or qualification that we’ve worked so hard to achieve?
Are there people out there who still don’t feel comfortable saying it but have been doing it for years?
When does a teacher become a teacher?
When does a lawyer become a lawyer?
Do we all have a number of defining moments where we dare to try out the title and see how it feels?
I’ve just done this myself. I just referred to myself as a “qualified counsellor”, and I paused after I’d written it, wondering if I should delete it or not…
It surprised me how significant a moment this was for me… Two words. Do they stay or do they go?
What would it mean if I left them there? What was I afraid of? Judgement? Who is going to judge me for being confident in my chosen profession? Do I feel unworthy of the title because I do not yet work as a counsellor? Will being PAID to have my qualification make it feel more real? Does a mechanic who decides to start building ornate bird houses for a living stop being a qualified mechanic? Am I afraid that I will be seen as fraudulent as I sit at my reception desk NOT counselling people?
This was all on Facebook, and I received a notification for a “like” on my comment… I went back and read it again and, incredibly, I was filled with an enormous sense of pride. I was proud of myself for leaving it there, I was proud of myself for writing it in the first place, and I was proud of what I had achieved. I may still be finishing my degree, but for the last 2 years, I’ve had my counselling diploma, just sitting there begging to be used. I am qualified! And soon I’ll just be MORE qualified!
Titles can be limiting or liberating… For me, “Receptionist” is limiting. People treat me differently to how they treated me as a “Manager”… They talk down to me and, (while I have developed some beautiful friendships with incredible people here) it challenges my sense of worth at times…
I wish it didn’t… And I hope I’ve never made any receptionist feel the way I have been made to feel at times (let’s not dive into “no one can make you feel anything without your permission etc, shall we?)… But the fact is that our society places so much importance on your job title and then boxes you accordingly, that it was bound to have some impact on my self worth, since it is still developing anyway!
“Counsellor” so far, as I sample the taste, is empowering, liberating and exciting. And I hope it remains as such.
Owning my title, I’m sure, will come slowly, with many more similar moments of sampling and testing. Being proud of my qualification will be easy. Being excited about my work will be easy… Being confident in my worthiness of the title will likely waver…
This is not an uncommon phenomenon, I realise. But knowing that it’s normal doesn’t make it feel any less isolating, terrifying or achievable…
What might sound like such a simple event, writing two words in a Facebook post, has had a profound effect on me today. And strangely, it has made me feel settled and at ease after a week of emotional calamity. I feel directed and purposeful. And I look forward to my next opportunity to test my ownership of my amazing title.