What I Now Know After Feeling Miserable and Worthless at Work

“You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you—it’s something inherent.” ~Danielle Koepke   Imagine you’re in your early thirties, in a job you enjoy at a company you love, and you just got promoted (without lobbying for it), so you’re living a great life. All of a sudden, you’re bombarded with negative feedback from your manager. Despite previously being commended on how you demonstrate accountability, maximize relationships, and a whole host of other “leadership dimensions” there is now not one area you’re strong in, and everything you do is regarded as not good enough. You’re devastated, stunned, confused, hurt, embarrassed, lost, scared, and basically frozen with fear. This was me back in 2007. At the time I had been with this large corporation for nine years in a variety of roles, steadily progressing up the corporate ladder. I started with them immediately out of college; I had essentially grown up there. I remember feeling so happy and proud when the job offer came; my excitement and enthusiasm for going to work each day was a little freakish. Each day I’d get up early and be bubbling with energy because I couldn’t wait to get there. My family was impressed with my landing a job at that corporation; it was the first thing they’d tell people who asked about me. I always identified myself first and foremost as being a team member at that company. It was who I was at my core. I initially started in a role more focused on data, analysis, and inventory planning, and maintained this focus for seven years. This aligned well with my analytical and logical mind. It wasn’t until I tried my hand at project management, teaching others to lead projects as well, that I started to grow more comfortable focusing on the people aspect. I remember being so scared when I first decided to diversify my skillset and make this shift, but proud that I’d had the courage to take the chance. Even though initially the nerves were almost overwhelming in the coaching role, I was really enjoying working with a broad set of people from analysts up to directors. I was someone they turned to for help, guidance, and advice. I started to feel more and more comfortable and was eventually told there was a promotion coming my way. Shortly after the promotion things started to suddenly go downhill. I was constantly being questioned about what I was doing to change and how I was addressing my opportunities. Nothing I did was right or good. It was such a sudden shift that I ended up very confused, scared, and doubtful. To hear that I was no longer good enough for this company I’d grown [...]