I recently came across a riveting blog post on LinkedIn by Derek Spanfelner, Head of the Learnivore Arts Community, that stuck a chord in me. In his post, he described a feeling I’ve had in the pit of my stomach for years, but never quite knew how to describe.
Spanfelner discussed how the importance of having a sense of community, rather than competition, is key to success in the workforce and our overall well-being. As a writer who has been looking for a job I feel good about (and I’m sure you’re all pretty tired of hearing about it) I never feel a sense of community or comfort when reading job descriptions, or even applying for a job for that matter. In fact, every time I send in my resume, I feel…dirty. Like I’m settling. Unwelcome. Everything feels so competitive and if you don’t meet certain requirements, you’re excluded from the thriving population with careers. Having a college degree, though some may argue may be useless nowadays, seems to make recruiters and over-privileged potential employees seem to think that they deserve happiness over everyone else. What about the hard workers without degrees who would kill to get their foot in the door?
Spanfelner opened with the one thought that always takes a firm grip on my heart whenever I log in to LinkedIn, stating, “Linkedin is a shark-infested ocean of competitiveness. If you can’t sell yourself with appropriately detailed buzzwords, a calculatedly inviting head shot, praise of your upward mobility from colleagues of status, and job titles that can belong nowhere else but stamped on the door of a corner office, then you’re nothing but fresh meat flailing in too-deep water.” I really couldn’t have worded that better myself. I’ve tried so hard (maybe too hard) to make myself stand out that it started to eat away at my confidence. With a constant urge to compete with others, it takes on a whole other life I’m not comfortable living. It’s unhealthy and doesn’t serve me or anyone else any good.
I may not be swimming in cash (or my parents’ cash, as most twenty-somethings seem to have it these days) or have a fancy piece of paper that says I’ve mastered college through my teeth, but I do have a beating, hungry heart dying to be a part of a community that nurtures creativity in others. If there’s one thing I learned throughout this entire journey of job searching so far, it’s that recruiters don’t care about me. They care about what you can do for them while stifling anything substantial that you may be able to contribute. As Spanfelner stated, “It’s in our human nature to come together for a greater purpose.” Why are we wasting so much time and energy competing when we could be combining our strengths for the greater good?
I’ve always wanted to start my own magazine that helps new and struggling writers get on their feet. I want to be able to nurture their talents and help them find their confidence, rather than drowning it by pointing out their lack of measly accolades and titles that mean nothing but snoot. By excluding others, we are showing a lack of empathy and class. I want to be able to give everyone a fair shot, especially if they’re down in the dumps because of competitive job markets.
By coming together and enforcing a sense of belonging, it becomes an integral part of life, which in turn, makes this world, and the job market, a much more welcoming place. For me, this isn’t a race – this is a sense of belonging in a world I never felt comfortable in.
To read Derek Spanfelner’s post, “Why Community, Not Competition, Is The Key to Success,” click HERE.
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