When I was growing up, I would have never thought I would have a sales job or anything in that realm. This became very obvious to me when I was a Girl Scout. We all know that Girl Scout cookies are great, right? Well, my neighbor seemed to disagree and would not buy any from me. This absolutely crushed me. I ran home crying from the rejection, and from that moment on I knew I was not cut out for sales. I quit Girl Scouts the next week. Unfortunately, I did not really learn anything from quitting. I did not take a lesson from my failure nor did I challenge myself; I retreated into what was comfortable. While this can feel good to us, it is such a setback for self-growth and development. While this is a seemingly insignificant experience in my life, it made a long-lasting impact that I still feel to this day.
I have definitely endured the most self-discovery in the last three years at Creighton University. Most of this is due to others in the community pushing me to go outside of my comfort zone. This started when my friends asked me to join them at Siena/Francis House to sit and eat with the homeless every week. I have always done service work through my previous schooling, but it was always in an area I was comfortable in. Building relationships with people who were very vulnerable made me feel vulnerable too, which was very uncomfortable at first. But as time went on, I started to look forward to visiting every week.
A year later, I pushed myself even further. I decided to go on a service-learning trip abroad with fellow students and faculty at Creighton. This was a six week-long trip that quickly changed the way I looked at the world. We traveled to Villa El Salvador in Lima, Peru.
The premise of this trip was not to go in and “help” people, but to build relationships and promote the dignity of all we encountered. I was very uncomfortable for most of this trip. I was in a different country, did not speak Spanish, and felt like I was invading into the lives of very vulnerable people. This really challenged me, and I felt like I was unable to connect and build relationships. I was holding myself back because I thought I was incapable of making an impact. But everything changes when you decide to face your doubts and embrace new situations. You may fail, but you may also learn a lot about yourself.
With this in mind, I finally decided to let my guard down, which made me feel extremely vulnerable as well. It was with this change that I began to connect with people. You don’t need a shared language to connect with other people. Compassion and empathy are not limited by language barriers. This was a huge takeaway for me and it inspired me to continue to push myself in other areas of my life. Most of our growth comes from the uncomfortable, new, and challenging situations we experience in our lives. I wanted to continue this theme in choosing an internship as well. I wanted something that was going to push me toward self-discovery. As I mentioned before, sales scared me. I was scarred from a young age, and therefore, put myself into a box. I thought I did not carry any of the qualities needed in a sales or recruiting job; I limited myself.
I chose my sales and recruiting internship at C&A Industries because I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of trying and succeeding at new tasks. And even in my failures, become more aware of my strengths and limitations. You don’t know what you like or what you’re good at until you try it. This internship has taught me that my abilities spread further than my perceived limitations. Once you continue to challenge yourself in this way, you become used to being uncomfortable. This is the best spot to be in. When you do this, you will see yourself grow by leaps and bounds. The increase in self-confidence and self-efficacy will surprise you. It’s almost like exposure therapy where you conquer your fears and doubts by confronting them head on.
This was definitely the case for me this summer. I used to hate calling strangers on the phone, but now I’ve made hundreds of calls to nurses without stress. My communication and organizational skills have improved and I am more comfortable talking to large groups of people. Without pushing myself, none of this growth would have occurred.
These may seem like small victories to most, but these are huge for me! It is also important to recognize that we all grow relative to our individual experiences. Support others for their victories and they will probably do the same for you.
My advice? Take advantage of your opportunities for growth and challenge someone else to do the same!
Mary Raitt is a Health Administration and Policy major at Creighton University, where she will be graduating from May 2020. At Aureus Medical, Mary works as a nursing recruiter and also a Summer 2019 intern. When she is not at work, Mary enjoys playing volleyball and reading books.