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“Eventually, I just got tired of always worrying what everyone else thought of me. So I decided not to listen.”
— Michelle Obama, the former first lady on how she quieted her thoughts of self-doubt
A decade ago, I started a new job, reporting on a topic I knew inside and out: pop culture. I was enthusiastic but highly insecure, and pretty clueless about setting professional boundaries.
Nearly every morning, I’d wake up to an onslaught of impatient emails from my boss, often sent throughout the night. Before long, I was getting calls on my days off with “urgent” tasks. My record would suffer if I declined was the implication.
Paralyzed by the inability to say “no” and nagged by impostor syndrome — the feeling that I wasn’t deserving of the role in the first place — I adapted to each whim and worked myself to the bone. I kept up, to the detriment of my mental health, grappling with anxiety and burnout.
The day I left that job, the clouds immediately began to lift. I put the dysfunctional grind behind me and returned to myself, remembering that I’m perfectly capable of landing on my feet and thriving.
A career is a two-way street, I learned, and the people we work for should feel as fortunate to have us as we do to have them.
Last week, The New York Times published a special section called The