I fucked up at work yesterday. Or, should I say ‘I think I fucked up at work yesterday’.
You know that feeling you get when you think you’ve proper messed something up? That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? The sudden sweaty palms and rapid heartbeat? When the panic sets in and you frantically try and retrace everything you did that got you to this point? Then you start questioning yourself and worse still, doubting yourself.
Yep, I had one of these ‘episodes’ yesterday. I won’t bore you with the details but in a nutshell, I produced a report for a client and let’s just say that she was less than happy with it. She decided to express this to me by basically interrogating me about my skills and qualifications and claiming that I had ruined her life and her business. Did I mention that she was a moron and a drama queen?
Now, this wasn’t quite the response I had envisioned when I hit the ‘send’ button a few hours earlier. So I was a little taken aback and defended myself as best as I could. But after I put the phone down, I must confess – I was rattled. My first and immediate reaction was to read through my work again. Was she right? Had I been unprofessional? Had I really ruined her life? (Ok, I didn’t actually question that but you get what I’m saying!).
All of a sudden, words and paragraphs that I thought were harmless when I wrote them suddenly screamed out at me. Should I really have written that? Does she have a point? Did I overstep the mark?
After re-reading and questioning every paragraph of my 11 page report, I left work feeling pretty crappy. Fortunately though, I had the good sense to call my husband and I couldn’t have scripted a better response from him!
My husband reminded me of what I’d written on all of the mirrors in our house a few days earlier, when I wrote the post– ‘I am good enough’. He told me that I was good enough, that I should know that I am and that I shouldn’t let this woman make me doubt that. In just a few seconds, with a few simple words – he managed to cut right through all the bullshit and get to the heart of what had upset me. And then to add to that, just by reminding me of those four little words, he managed to make me feel so much better! Yeah, I know – he’s got skills!
You see, anytime I make even a minor error at work I go into panic stations. The first thing I do is doubt myself. The second thing I do is let the feelings of the imposter syndrome take hold. ‘Oh my god, they’re going to find out that I’m actually really shit at this job after all’ or ‘they’re going to find out how thick I really am’. These are my ‘go to’ thoughts despite the fact that I’ve been doing this job for eight years!!!! And despite the fact that I more than competent at it. For some reason though, some part of me is always in fear that I’m not good enough to be where I am right now – and that I’ll be found out. The cruel joke of all of this is that I’m not even in a high flying job! LOL
Despite my husband’s wise words, as is standard procedure with anything in my life. I needed to bounce this off my best friend too so I called my sister. I went through the whole scenario again with her and she listened patiently. She then said the second wisest thing I heard that day. She told me that a Manager had once said to her “you need to be able to stand behind whatever you produce and believe in it. Every time you give advice or produce a document, you not only need to be able to fully understand it yourself. You also need to believe in whatever it is so you can stand behind it!”
My sister explained that my apparent ‘fuck up’ wasn’t a processing error, it wasn’t like I pushed the wrong button and everything went to shit. My ‘fuck up’ was actually something I spent days thinking about and writing. Something I investigated, pondered and then went on to write an 11 page report about. Everything I put into that report at the time I wrote it was something I considered relevant. “So stand by your beliefs”. She said. “It doesn’t matter if one person in the world doesn’t like it. So what?! If you can stand behind what you wrote, because you obviously wrote it for a reason – then who cares if she doesn’t like it or if she complains? That’s just one person’s opinion. It doesn’t matter if you get called up on it either – as long as you can stand by your beliefs”.
She ended her little sermon with “as long as you know why you wrote what you wrote, why you did what you did, then that’s all that matters”. Jesus! When did this 30 year old kid get so wise?