What Kind of Credentials Do You Have?
A seemingly innocent question it can feel loaded.
Two times in the past two weeks I’ve been asked this question. Not because I was applying for a job. In one case it was by someone I had just met and in the second case I was catching up with someone I hadn’t seen in years. Over ten.
This question, even when asked in a conversational and non-confrontational way, can kick up the internal imposter syndrome trolls. I used to shrink from it. I would back pedal, justify and nervous talk my way through it. And now I’m comfortable telling someone my exact qualifications: “Life experience.” Then I leave it there. And they blink. And I blink back.
The conversation is a normal one to have and usually goes like this:
Them: “What do you do?”
While I feel 100% comfortable with my qualifications I still struggle to define my work to people who have “normal” jobs. It’s not as if I have a straight forward job title like “Oh hey I’m a nurse or a librarian or a director of XX for XX company.”
It’s a little more tricky than that.
Depending on who I’m speaking to, I change up the answer. Sometimes I go for “I’m a women’s coach.” Which can give the incorrect impression I’m in the gym directing sit-ups and push-ups. Not so great. I’m not a fan of the life coach title. At all. I think because I had a distinct interaction years ago with a self-described life coach who was also in the next breath telling me how scared she was to take a train to the next town over on her own. I don’t know, it didn’t sit well with me.
Or sometimes I hand them my business card. Instead of a title, it reads ‘pusher of the semi-reluctant.’ But this past time it was as bare bones as I could get it, “I help women set and achieve their goals.”
Them asking my background/credentials is simply the next question in the flow of conversation. It’s not a common line of work and asking makes sense, no?
Then if I’m feeling like it, I’ll go a bit further. “I work with women on what I’ve personally been through. For example, I’m not qualified to help someone who’s struggling with an eating disorder.”
And then we talk a bit more about it and then the conversation flows to something else. But this credentials question got my wheels churning.
If there were a series of courses I could have taken in place of my actual life experience, here’s what they would have looked like:
*You’re Screwed: A Master Course: 5 year program — In this graduate level course your whole self will be tested after you ignore your gut and get married to someone you’re not meant to be with. Things will come to a head and you’ll endure extreme guilt, lose 20 pounds, and not sleep for days. Once you tell your husband your thoughts you’ll learn how to navigate a next level version of the blame game — all directed at you. Right in the height of it all, at age 30, he’ll tragically die on Thanksgiving day. You’ll then be plunged into grief, extreme family relations, financial challenges, and personal identification issues. Extra Credit: Juggle severe financial hardship including trying to keep your head above water with two houses and two cars. Bonus Points — Avoid a bankruptcy, endure a lengthy foreclosure, cry on the phone monthly with the IRS, and watch your stellar credit score plummet to the low 400s.
*Resiliency: A Master Course: To be taken concurrently with the You’re Screwed Master Course — This intense deep dive will teach you how to put your life back together after learning your newly dead husband had multiple girlfriends, flings, and dalliances during the course of your entire relationship. You’ll keep this from public knowledge because (1) you feel awful for his friends and family and (2) your feelings of extreme shame and stupidity make you want to conceal the secret. You’ll be confronted daily with kind, well-meaning people who offer their sympathies for your loss. You’ll feel like there’s no room for your raging, complicated grief. At first you’ll spend your energy in extreme anger. Then you’ll learn to muddle your way through a myriad of intense emotions including guilt, shame, anger, relief, and sadness. Extra Credit: Spend days crying and poring over his text messages and emails with his girlfriends. Hone your communication and interpersonal skills through awkward conversations. Lessons include: Explaining to your family physician why you’ve asked for a full STD panel and placing phone calls to your husbands girlfriends and flings. Bonus Points — Years later to be sure you have truly learned all you can from this course, you’ll be subjected to a public facing attack including extreme hate, slander, and libel perpetrated by people close to your former husband.
- To note — If you survive these Master Courses, you can progress on to your PhD course track outlined below.
PhD — Walk Away From Your Entire Life
*Prerequisites — You’re Screwed + Resiliency
This independent study program focuses on burning your life down to the ground and rebuilding it. You’ll learn to stop going with the flow and instead break away and live your life based on what’s best for you. Using the lessons from the Masterclasses you’ll learn to listen to your gut, stand up for yourself, and squash daily fear — all with the intent of changing your life. After being instrumental in building a start up tech company from one employee to 22 and earning the title of V.P, you’ll become the target of extreme rage episodes courtesy of the founder, a villain boss. Things will come to a head when he slanders you to the management team, fires you, and holds your last paycheck ransom. Instead of finding another job you could care less about, you’ll make the decision to leave your home, your job, your community, and country all in search of what’s next for your life. Extra Credit — Travel to Italy and not have one actual idea what you’re doing with life — on the daily. Fight off the urge to seek approval and explain your new life direction ad nauseam to friends and family. Develop and execute a financial plan to fund this next chapter. Bonus Points — Set up a new business and life using all you’ve learned from the past 14 years Masterclasses.
Successful course completion and PhD status is achieved when you can do the following with ease:
- Learn the art of listening to your gut, taking yourself seriously, and in general standing up for yourself. At all costs.
- Master the concept that your first husband’s infidelity was about him and had nothing to do with you.
- Lay down shame, guilt, and all other emotions that weren’t yours to carry in the first place.
- Become the sounding board for your friends when they’re not sure what to do in any given situation. They will eventually develop the saying ‘WWRD: What Would Robyn Do?’ and invoke it regularly.
- Reclaim Thanksgiving as your favorite holiday even when the memory of the one you spent in 2005 is fresh in your head.
- Bounce back financially without filing bankruptcy, paying off the IRS in full, and getting your credit score back to the glory days of the 800’s.
- Strike out on your own and share what you’ve learned. Use those hard earned lessons as the basis of your work with other women.
- Travel far and wide and live your life bigger in spite of where you’ve been.
- Stand strong in who you are and reject any person or situation that tries to cut you down.
- Resist at all costs, explaining who you are and why you’re not just ok. You’re perfectly imperfect.
Above All — Become capable of answering this question with a smile on your face: What kind of credentials do you have?
Message me here if you’re interested in doing some one-on-one work, making a plan, and working toward your goals. I currently have room for two clients in my calendar.