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Why I do what I do - short story on getting lost and finding yourself

"What am I going to do with my life once Nikolina finds herself?"

This was a sentence a very good friend of mine said on one of our field trips a couple of years ago. We were somewhere by the seaside, walking back to our apartment, and I was probably talking about another one of my attempts to finally find what it is I want to do in life.


It doesn't matter exactly what it was that time - some new education, mentoring program, networking event, or just a new idea for the next step in my career. Whatever it was, my friends had heard it countless times before.


To put things in perspective, here is some context.

Around that time I had finished my master's degree in psychology, did my internship in the healthcare system, and had the biggest disappointment of my life.

The idea of a perfect "career" I had from the first time I knew I wanted to be a psychologist turned out to be extremely different from my expectations, values, and possibilities for the future.


After that hit of reality and after my internship ended, I had a longer period of unemployment, and once I got a job in the human resources field, it was all supposed to be (finally!) okay.


Except it wasn't.

I felt just as lost, just as disappointed, and just as unhappy.

The only difference was I had a job now.


And that brings us to the beginning and this very honest sentence from my friend, that has as much humor and lightness in it, as it has heaviness that lies beneath the surface.


So where was the problem - was it in my surroundings or in me?


Today, after seeing four different industries, and working with people from all backgrounds, I would say probably both, but if I was going to be completely honest, the "problem" was mostly me :)


 

The "problem" with my surroundings was that they weren't a good fit for someone who wanted what I wanted, or more importantly - needed.

  • I needed a mentor, and I got people who either forgot what it meant to be a complete beginner or didn't care.

  • I needed a team and someone to share my ideas with to help me grow, and I got a job where I was the only person doing that job.

  • I wanted more meaning and making an impact, and I got a job in the public healthcare system that had many ways of teaching you how to lose all sense for people.

  • I needed structure and focus, as well as growth opportunities (what most young professionals need), but instead, I got either too narrow or too broad a scope of tasks and responsibilities.


The "problem" with me was I didn't know how to ask for help. And I didn't know I had a voice that no one else was going to use for me.

  • Maybe it was a result of my background, but I felt that as a psychologist, I should be able to "get it together".

  • I had this internalized belief that after only a few months, I should be able to know how to do a job I had never done before, and that I should be as productive as someone with much more experience than me (talk about unrealistic expectations).

  • I had this belief that if I didn't fit in the culture of the company, the problem was only in me and that I must have been doing something wrong.

  • I also had this barrier from leaving that same job, because "what will other people think" if I quit a good job?

  • AND I still had this lingering sense of losing part of my identity (after disappointment from my first job), that I had never acknowledged and that with time only grew more and more intense.


 

In reality, the "problem" was that no one taught me or my surroundings to consider the human part of all professional experiences. I didn't know how to deal with my experiences and emotions and held it all back. The teams I worked with focused on working the only way they knew how, and that didn't align with what was right for me. And neither side could recognize and name that misalignment in time.


So what happened?

I started studying more about human behavior, communication skills, project management skills, and teamwork... it was great for my professional knowledge but didn't help me as a person.

Ultimately what helped me was internalizing the philosophy I learned in my own therapy sessions, and later on coaching. Only when I changed my perspective and internal beliefs, took ownership of my own choices, and decided to listen to myself first, did all those skills get a chance to be seen in practice.


From today's perspective, I have nothing but compassion and pride for that younger version of myself who felt so lost and spent so many years in frustration and attempting to find that "one thing" that is just for her.


And I can see what I couldn't see at that time, that precisely that experience - of being lost, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, sad, hopeless, and helpless (at least in my mind) - will inspire me to finally find what I was looking for.

A way of working with people who are going through change, and frustration, searching for meaning and connection, and supporting their journey in a way they need it.


That's where my passion for bringing the "human" into our workplaces was born.

They say when starting a business, you should start with what you needed at some point.

And I needed support, someone to tell me it's all normal and part of growth, and to show me other perspectives I couldn't see at the time.


And with that - welcome to qthentic :)

A place where we challenge the status quo of our usual ways of thinking and being, learning how to better understand ourselves and take responsibility for our own lives and careers by discovering what that little human inside us has to say.


I am looking forward to joining your development journey.

Nikolina


 

For more about coaching programs, check out Working together page or if this is your first time considering coaching, check out FAQ with some of the most common questions answered.



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