Feb 21, 2012
“Your belief in me is both inspiring and petrifying at the same time.”
I thought this thought to myself today. There is, of course, a story behind it.
Most of you know I am a writer by trade. I recently took on an assignment to write an article on my organization’s behalf for a magazine that is well respected in our little corner of the world. But the audience for this magazine was one for which I’d never written before. If I was successful, it would be a great thing for my organization. If I failed, it would be a terrible thing for me.
(No pressure, right?)
I went at the task with fervor. I interviewed experts on my subject matter. I held little focus group discussions. I asked questions, drafted drafts, drafted more drafts, got feedback and…completely melted down.
The problem was that I didn’t give myself time to process all the feedback I was getting. I was on deadline and I didn’t have time to just sit with it. I had to write it! For some people this works (my cousin, she writes for a daily newspaper and for her this works). For me, this is a sure route to failure.
And that is what I did. I failed. Big. Last Friday, after staring at the cursor on my computer for four straight hours I cobbled together a sub-par draft and sent it to my supervisor and left for the weekend, feeling dejected and wondering if I’d still have a job come Tuesday.
And my whole weekend was ruined by it. One thing you have to understand about me is that I was raised in an abusive home. As an adult, I know, academically, that making mistakes will not result in violence, but still knowingly making mistakes makes me feel very unsafe. I tend to be very much like Dobby, from Harry Potter. I beat myself up before anyone else has a chance to do it.
Now before you say it, no I am not exaggerating. The story DID suck that bad. Even my supervisor said so (but, thankfully, not in those exact words). But what she sent me back was obviously not violent, but it also wasn’t an admonition or any statement of me being a bad writer, employee or person. Walking to work Tuesday I didn’t know what we should do about the story. My inclination was to beg her to drop the whole thing. I mean, we did REALLY have to turn a story in, did we?
But she was extremely encouraging. She took the time to read over my draft (and a few others I’d send over the course of the week preliminarily) and give suggestions on how I could complete the story. Never once did she suggest that I give up. And not in a “you better do this or else” sort of way but a “I believe you can do this and you know you can too” sort of way.
So I’ve spent the better part of the day re-crafting the story. A funny thing happens when you allow yourself time and space to process things. You see what you could not see before. You get ideas that seem to have come out of nowhere, but really are the result of our brain running all the possibilities and coming up with the most logical solution.
It was in the drafting of the story that I thought the first line of this blog post. Her belief in me did inspire me to rewrite a better story. But it also scared the holy crap out of me. Expectations are meant to be met or exceeded. Falling short of expectations is absolutely awful. It doesn’t make anybody feel good, especially when you know what you are capable of.
I tell you this to say, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves in this WLS process. The whole world is watching us, waiting for us to fail, or so we think. But imagine, in the situation I described, if I had not made it such a big deal to sit with the information over the weekend and resolved to come back to it today. The story is still getting turned in on time and it’s the RIGHT story.
What might happen if you stopped putting so much pressure on yourself to drop so many pounds or to be able or not be able to eat certain amounts of certain foods or have figured out certain head issues or whatever your challenge is. What would happen if you just chilled out for a moment? Gave yourself this one moment of peace to process all the changes that have happened and to figure out where you want to go from here.
Because there is a way to get from where you are to what you want. Your brain just needs to figure out the most logical solution. And to do that, sometimes you just need a little bit of space and time.