This is what one coworker told me once. I was expressing some frustration I was feeling about the work environment and she said “I don’t care how badly I am treated. I am lucky I got this job and will never leave it. You are smart enough that you can get another job.”
I felt bad for her. No one is so dumb that they can only do one job. People often underestimate themselves especially when they have low-ranking positions. I complimented her and told her that I thought she was capable and smart which was true, but I don’t think she accepted it. She had internalized that she needed to be something that she didn’t think she could be.
Why am I sharing this? Studies show that minorities and women tend to not apply for jobs unless they have all the skills. While men tend to apply for jobs even if they have 50% of the skills. I don’t apply unless I have 80% and I am a strong fit. Still, it doesn’t help people when they limit their chances because they believe others require more of them than they do.
I have worked with lots of people smarter than me who were in lower positions than me. One woman stands out in particular. She acted like a secretary and when I talked to her I found out how smart she was. She told me that she had a Ph.D and her job was to do something complicated but she wasn’t allowed to do that. I thought how silly that was, and this was at a big-name company you would recognize. She said as long as she is getting paid she doesn’t care what she does. I told her it wasn’t right, and that she had value even if others didn’t allow her to do it.
When employees are not given the chance to use their skills, it sends a message that they aren’t good enough. Listen, people, don’t take anything that happens at work personally. It is just a job and there are lots of people at work who aren’t good at being human and make their problems yours. It’s okay to recognize this and allow people to make mistakes and bow out when it becomes too toxic for you.
Perhaps the person who thinks they are lucky to have that job is still at the company. I am not here to judge anyone. Just consider for a moment that they are lucky to have you no matter if think your skills should be more. We all have limits, and if you can do your job that is enough.