Anxiety, Assertiveness, and Adulthood

One obstacle that’s consistently held me back from achieving more and being a better me is social anxiety. I never really started to label my “shyness” or “quiet nature” as anxiety until college, when I began to learn about how many people deal with it and how debilitating it can be for some. I’ve always assumed that I was just a natural introvert. But as I began to notice things about myself that were unusual, such as burning up and sweating at the thought of asking a grocery store employee to help me find something, or wanting to run away in shame when a friend asked a waiter or waitress to correct their order, I realized that my immense fears and feelings of guilt that arose from everyday interactions were not something I had to, or should have allowed myself to deal with any longer.

Anxiety affects us in many ways. It makes it difficult to form and maintain relationships, it makes it hard to interview and land our dream jobs, and for some, like myself, it makes it extremely difficult to ask for help or say no in fear of inconveniencing or hurting others’ feelings. This is something I’ve pinpointed and identified as a major source of my stress, especially throughout recent years. While I’ve always been an independent thinker and worker, I realize that there are a lot of opportunities I’ve given up or missed out on because I was too afraid to ask questions or approach others.

I’m really lucky to have been able to join Binc so soon after finishing college. While I never dreamed about becoming a recruiter as a child, I can definitely see a mountain of progress from just these past three months and am extremely grateful for some of the things I’ve learned thus far. I’ve learned how to source like a machine, craft some pretty decent pitches, and control my sassiness when emailing unresponsive candidates for the third time in a row. But more importantly, I’ve learned that recruiting relies on both concessions and rejections. It is an industry that lives and dies upon communication and collaboration. This has probably been the single most rewarding and frustrating piece I’ve come to understand since joining Binc.

While I love to make jokes and receive attention, I pretty much hate talking to people. When I do happen to communicate with others, I tend to say “I’m sorry!” and “thank you!!” a little bit too much. I use these excessive apologies and expressions of gratitude as a way to shield myself. I feel as if I do not treat others, particularly candidates that I’m trying to recruit, as royalty, then I will be perceived as rude, uninterested or ungrateful. When I first began screening candidates shortly after starting my first project, I consistently received feedback from multiple other Bincers that I was simply “too nice.” My mother always taught me to say please and thank you, but I realize now that I may have taken that message a little too closely to heart and that being too polite can actually have negative implications in the recruiting world and beyond. 

By thanking a candidate several times just for agreeing to speak to me and being too afraid to ask them for something as simple as a copy of their résumé, I forfeit the power in that relationship. This makes it harder for me to achieve my end goal of hiring that candidate.
In daily life, my fear of being perceived as anything less than uber-polite or friendly has made it really difficult for me to be assertive and say what I really mean. I’ve always thought of direct rejections as harsh, and consider asking for help when it is not absolutely necessary to be burdensome and impolite.

I’ve taken the feedback from my recruiter screens and have been trying to apply it not only to professional interactions but to my personal interactions and daily life as well. One of my goals as I continue to grow as a recruiter and adult is to be more assertive. For me, that means asking favors of others when I need them and saying no even when it may be uncomfortable. 

It’s been about three and a half months since I first joined Binc. This is my first experience as a recruiter and also my first real job. I’m living completely on my own for the first time (in Los Angeles, nonetheless) and getting my first real taste of adulthood (I get to pay all of the bills myself ☺)! Needless to say, there have been a lot of scary firsts for me in a short amount of time, and I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and combat some of my anxiety to stay afloat. Recruiting has taught me how to be a better communicator, and for that, I am very grateful.

I doubt that I will ever become less independent or headstrong (as that would entail deflating my sometimes-too-large ego), but one thing I have started learning throughout the past few months is that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to say no. I’m proud of myself for making so much progress in a short amount of time. I eagerly await the day when I can pass on what I’ve learned and help someone as much as my colleagues have helped me.

Connor Carion