It’s a Monday morning, and I’m sobbing. It’s the first day of my dream job: exciting, scary, challenging, and a bit crazy. Still, while I’m preparing for a new week, I cannot stop myself from already missing my team and my former role. I cried for the years of learning, daring, and working until I could not work anymore. I cried for the years of questions like: “Is this what I want?”, “Is it right for me?”, “What is it that I want to do? What is my role? How can I bring value? Who am I?”.
In reality, after dealing with that sudden spill of emotion, I know that I will still work with everybody I used to, and my former role will bring massive value to my new one.
My new role of Community Builder in mindit.io is that of being Maria in mindit.io, and this is how I have answered my question - Who am I? I am me, no matter the context.
Even so, for many years of my life, I was just a job name in a workplace.
The wandering from “job-name” to “Maria” keeps reminding me of a relationship.
My journey started in college with almost four years of volunteering that shaped my whole being. A student-led NGO is a perfect place to fall in love with learning and experimenting. It’s where you’re working for the thrill and not the money.
As with any relationship in its first months, it can get quite intoxicating. You are in love, a bit obsessed at times, but so passionate. My inner engine became accustomed to being fueled by passion, learning, and contribution, which keeps guiding me even today.
Some years after working as a recruiter, I’ve started to feel stuck.
For me, recruitment was always a beautiful way to both discover and help people find their place. Every accepted offer and every outstanding feedback for one of my hires fueled that engine that kept me moving. Recruitment was my passion and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to grow with it.
It’s when everything you used to love once becomes the source of your stress and sorrow that should make you at least a bit aware. Working with people didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. Instead of working with them, I was somehow started to work against them.
A lousy vibe always comes in a pack. As much as I tried to change my context, nothing seemed helpful. I was lost, and this third stage found me in the winter of my journey.
I was not feeling any passion, and no excitement guided my days. For a person taught to find drive in learning and experiments, not loving any of them anymore felt like a draught.
I’ve felt that my values were not aligned with those of my employers. I couldn’t find the beauty behind each recruitment process, and my “Let’s do it!” attitude disappeared.
This stage was also when I started looking for passion in other places, hoping to revive my love for my professional life. Everything culminated with me joining Universitatea Alternativa, a platform for seeding freedom-centered learning and work in Romania, focusing on developing autonomy in learning, learning communities, professional skills, and impactful projects with students. Basically, I went back to the beginning and found some NGO vibes to nurture my nostalgia for the old days.
I’ve studied subjects like Train the Trainer, Schools around the world, and Learning Theory. I was part of sessions that came incredibly close to being perceived as group therapy. I’ve participated in various workshops, from the ESPERE method to learning to choose a cause to contribute to that speaks to you. More than anything, that’s when I’ve started looking for my calling. I’ve worked non-stop to answer my most pressing question: “Why am I here? What is my role in the grand scheme of things?”.
Sadly the excitement was faced by the same being who faced it the first time in college. All I did was place myself in a vicious circle with me cyclicly going from The Merge to Disillusionment. Was it helpful? Not really because my stuckness was starting to feel stuck. Add here some personal issues and fights with depression, anxiety, and grief, and you have the perfect recipe for failure.
Around me, stories about young adults finding their purpose thrived, and instead of inspiring me, they buried me. All the enthusiasm I’ve once felt through my role as a recruiter couldn’t be found anywhere, and believe me, it was not the recruitment part that it had to change. It was my mindset.
At that time, I started my job at mindit.io, hoping for a breath of fresh air. It actually was, but I couldn’t see it since I kept repeating my old cycle - The Merge -> The Disillusionment.
I had to change something. Therapy started to work, but not as much as I wished. And you know why? Because after all of those years, I was still looking to change those around me, change the context, change the reality, the society, my life. Not a single minute did I try to adapt my perspective, take a step back, see the big picture, learn from those success stories, and not bury myself.
It was time to make a decision. After all, our roles are not already defined; it’s us defining them. It’s not easy working on your mindset. It’s a challenge both for you and those you’re working with. Patience, empathy, and a genuine love for people keep you from not resigning or firing someone. I couldn’t be more grateful for my peers for becoming such a powerful support system. And not only for me - we were each other’s support system, and we were growing together.
*Old mindset*: I have to find my calling, they have to think as I do, they have to understand me, they are too picky, pushy, needy. I don’t feel understood. They are not looking out for me and ignore my needs. I have a shitty job. Everybody is dissing recruiters. Recruitment isn’t for me.
*New mindset*: I want to contribute in any way I find valuable. We are a community, and every perspective enriches our path. People are not my enemies and my competitors, but my teammates, my partners. Emotions are healthy as long as you learn how to integrate them. Transparency, authenticity, innovation, proactivity, and empathy are my pillars. Looking for help when I need it is not a weakness but a strength. I can create my role, shape the paths I am walking on, and a dream can become a reality if I believe in it and work for it.
Sometimes working for a dream does not translate only to “working 14h/day for a dream”. Sometimes you need to:
* look in the mirror, being prepared to see the truth,
* take that version of yourself and place it next to “who I want to be”,
* start shaping your current persona to become your desired version.
With a new mindset, my passion was back. Working with and for people was again a huge part of my day and recruiting never felt so rewarding.
Being happy with who I am and my way of contributing left me room to be creative, dare and experiment with new ways of contributing. This is how after a while I had the opportunity to take on the role of Recruitment Manager and become The Support System for my team.
One year and a lot of enthusiasm later, I am still doing things for people, but from a new role.
While searching for a name for my position, I’ve come across this definition, and I’ve again felt the sparkles of love.
Community builders operate at the nexus of operations, marketing, and business development. They are at once creative and analytical, strategic and empathetic, listeners and communicators, constantly working to identify opportunities and create unique, valuable connections between groups of people. Community builders are continually answering the question, “what does it mean to build an authentic, engaged community in an age of perpetual hyper-connection?” (source:/ https://blog.communitybuilders.io/ )
Right now, I am wholeheartedly in love with my role as a Community Builder as I’m putting all my resources and energy into my community’s service. I am wholeheartedly in love with my team, peers, and community. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments when they drive me crazy. I am sure I am constantly doing it to them too. I am in a committed relationship, though, and even when there are stormy days, love, communication, and dedication will always save the day.
There is no perfect, generally applicable recipe for crafting your role. There will be times when you will work 16h a day, and besides tiredness, you will feel passion and love. But there will be times when you will have to adapt your mindset, be present and participate. Take a leap of faith and start moulding your role. Like in any relationship, there isn’t a given “the one”. It’s an opportunity you made yourself ready for. All past lessons will make sense now (just as everything I’ve learned during my years at Universitatea Alternative came to be the base of who I am today), and building a lasting, loving relationship won’t feel like a burden anymore.
Take a leap of faith and start being present and curious while crafting your role. It can do magic.