[Raw] My experience with failure.

Growing up, I was always told to never make mistakes.

“Just don’t make mistakes. Failure is a HORRIBLE teacher–it’s just a step in the wrong direction” – Mentor

I was raised believing that mistakes were the ultimate enemy. If I failed, there was no return. Fail once and you’re done. When it gets down to the wire and the only way is forward, I’m cold. I get shit done. Nothing gets in my way when I don’t have time to think. But when I start to question myself and the things I’m capable of, I crumble. I begin to think I’m a faker, that I can’t actually do anything. Graduating from college and walking on the stage, I repeatedly thought “How did I ever graduate from here? How is it possible that I passed my courses?”. Every day I would wake up thinking I was the biggest idiot. There was no way my parents could be proud of me—even if they said so. I’ve always thought I was the odd man out from my social groups. It didn’t matter what kind of awards or competitions I won. It didn’t matter if I did well or excelled at a certain kind of field. Nothing was ever going to be good enough. I thought I was garbage. The bottom of the barrel.

Fast forward to the present day. I had just returned from a successful client event down South and had received multiple emails about how grateful my bosses were of my help. I was proud of myself to see this and put it in my ‘Wins’ folder. Even my parents mentioned they were proud of me. Riding on that high, I kept doing everything well. I was coming into work, dominating the day, and going home happy. But then today, something happened. While performing my daily check on a client website, I screwed up someone’s role. It was a small mistake but enough to warrant an email from the client requesting information for the mistake. I immediately stopped my work. I started to think about how many times I was warned by my parents to NEVER fail; failing is bad and is a step in the wrong direction. I started to think how much of a screw up I was. I was legitimately scared of losing my job. One small mistake could upend my whole career and prove to everyone how much of a fraud I was.

I got this message while I was facilitating another client’s meeting. Fortunately, this was a tele-conference with no webcams. No one could see me shuddering and feeling scared. I was terrified. All kinds of questions began to pop up.

‘What if my parents found out? Was my manager going to scream at me? What if the company loses money because of this? What if the client pursues legal action against me?”‘

All of these questions started to pop up and I just psyched myself out more.

Looking back, it’s not a huge mistake. Following one of my company’s policies regarding mistakes, I reported it to my manager EARLY. My manager responded stating that I did the right thing in reporting it early and that mistakes happen. Reporting it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done during my time here, but it paid off. I don’t know what my manager is going to say or how my upcoming meeting with them will go, but I’m going in with an open mind. Especially in times like this, I need to embrace the uncertainty. 

More to come.

J.

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