Getting Un-Stuck: “Fear of Being Found Out”

This is for the job seeker who has an aspect of their life they may have wanted to keep separate from the career path they are currently pursuing.  I think there is a misconception that potential employers want their ideal candidates to live, eat & breathe everything about the position without any glimpse of non-related skills or interests.  Allow me to use my own story as an example.

photo by Jordan Matters (as part of 'Dancers Among Us' series

photo by Jordan Matters (as part of ‘Dancers Among Us’ series

I have been a dancer since my legs were coordinated enough to hold me upright.  I will always be a dancer regardless of my age, condition, physical ability, etc.  Those of us who are dancers know that it has less to do with earning money as a performer and more to do with a state of mind. Dancers throw in a wrist flourish without even realizing because it is as much an innate characteristic as it is an activity.  When I finished my Masters and began working, I treated my evening classes, training and performances as a separate identity that I wasn’t comfortable revealing to colleagues.  I was a brand new professional and wanted to play the role of “professional adult.”

In my naive mind, I didn’t think that the “big-wigs” would take me seriously enough if they knew I was dancing my heart out at night and on week-ends.  I worried that it would dampen their ideas about my dedication to my job.  In reality, it was quite the opposite.  It gave me a level of empathy in working with creative individuals in similar situations.  It helped me de-stress and avoid feelings of burn-out that counselors often deal with.  A light went on and I realized that one way to avoid “being found out” is to embrace the duality upfront.  I am completely at peace as the dancing career counselor and have re-shaped the messages to enhance my brand; rather than dampen it.

Fear of being found out can also relate to fear of not being good enough.  I’ve had clients who hide behind their job search correspondence and their elevator pitches with an underlying fear that they aren’t really that person they are trying to project.  Part of gaining confidence involves understanding your real value and learning to leverage your story.  The internal messages of fear and self-doubt will become much quieter (and maybe even disappear) if you truly understand what you have to offer.  That is the first step or, perhaps, the first sashay to overcoming this barrier.

By Tava Auslan


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