Self-confidence. Uncertainty. Going against the norm.

The major concerns by university students and the first step to solve them

During last week, I had the opportunity to speak to different student groups at Bryant University amongst them the International Business Association, the Volleyball team, admitted female students and the Global Studies program. I shared my story of struggling doing the “right thing”; finding a career that would justify my degrees (BA from Bryant U; MA from Georgetown U, MSc from U of Minnesota) while climbing up the corporate ladder. I told them I was scared I would be stuck in a job for 40 years that I would not enjoy. I knew the corporate world was not for me* but that is the norm. Why should I have the privilege of doing something different?

Would I find something that would suit me? It is a scary thought thinking that all these decisions would have to be made while graduating from college. A lot of pressure is put upon graduating students who are desperately trying to find a place in the world.

By having “failed” multiple times juggling my pursuit of my passion with doing the “right thing”, I quit the “normal life” cold turkey and moved to a different country without speaking the language and knowing anyone. Since then, I created my own company and set a world record.

A scary, adventurous and rewarding life story that has hit home for the students I talked to. I saw a trend of three concerns that I want to address in this article: Self-confidence, uncertainty and doing the “unusual thing”:

If you don’t know what you want to do after graduation

As graduates, there is a  perception that you have to find THAT job that will give you happiness and fulfillment in life. Moreover, if you don’t know what you want to do after graduation, you might feel you have failed somehow. However, it is completely normal to still being in the process of finding and defining yourself. In fact, you will go through this process many times in your life. This is completely normal. If you don’t know what you want to do with your life,  expose yourself to as many experiences as possible. The answer to your life is not on the internet nor thinking about it on the couch. You will find the answer by getting outside, travelling, working different jobs, meeting people and getting outside your comfort zone. All these experiences will help you to understand what you like and don’t like and your choices will naturally narrow down to that what you want.

Going against the norm

One of the other questions that was asked is how to deal with parents, friends and an environment that want you to live this “normal” life.* My dad was against my choices. He wanted to see his daughter succeed and his definition of success was climbing the corporate career ladder. He meant it well but what people often forget is that happiness is not money or titles. I have met a lot of unhappy millionaires.
For those who have no impact on your decisions let their opinion not change you. Be self-confident (see point below). For those people that matter in your life, have a serious conversation if their wants of your life does not align with what makes you happy. What does money matter if you become depressed, overworked and sick? Is that what they want?
Help them understand what your definition of happiness is.

The trouble with self-confidence

The first principle of my RAD framework is “being Real” (see full definition here). Every achievement, fulfillment and happiness starts with YOU. If you don’t know yourself and don’t accept and appreciate yourself, you inhibit your own progress and capacity to excel, being happy and fulfilled. I find this lack in self-confidence especially in females. (That’s why I am so passionate about my ‘women empowerment’ workshop). But in nowadays time of social media where we constantly bombarded with how imperfect we are and how better others are, it is tough to develop the most important personality trait. Self-confidence starts by understanding ourselves. Do you know your talents, your weaknesses, your likes and dislikes? And do you accept and appreciate them? This is the foundation of being yourself.

By talking to more universities my mission is to give students the power to become more self-confident and enable them to think beyond the norm so they can live the most fulfilling life they can!