I finally admitted to myself something that I’ve known for pretty much my whole life but never had the courage to say out loud – especially not to myself.
I’m a perfectionist with an enfeebling fear of failure.
I fear failure so much that quite often I don’t even begin a project because I’m too terrified it will go wrong or I’ll make a mistake of some kind.
I reached a clear understanding of my “condition” with my recent fevered work search.
I’ve applied for many, many jobs – all within my wheelhouse, or at least expertise-adjacent – and while I have received about 90% of the “thank you, but we’re not hiring” or “thank you, but you’re not what we’re looking for” and (my favourite) “thank you, but we want US citizens only” responses, the other 10% have responded with “You sound perfect for this! Please complete our short entrance test/exam and we’ll see where you stand and where we can use you!”
I’ve completed two so far. Two.
I’m the queen of excuses; the duchess of rationalization; the empress of reasons to dilly-dally.
I’ve started another test; “set up” (by downloading the files and filling in the forms) for 3 others, but whenever I find the time my brain starts to look for excuses: I have no space on this tiny desk to work properly (the movers took our nice big table away, so husband and I are sharing this tiny rickety desk and we barely fit, even sitting on opposite sides of it); the glare on my screen is too much for me to accurately see what I’m typing; I’m tired; I’m restless and the dogs need me to… do something; the laundry needs folding; the kitchen needs cleaning; I can’t use my pedal correctly and it makes my legs or my back ache sitting at such a strange angle.
And the excuses just roll on in.
The thing that REALLY pisses me off is that once I START on something and get rolling and into it I’m just fine! I can churn out a great deal of excellent work when I focus!
I enjoy my work! I studied hard; I worked hard; I learned a great deal; I actually ENJOY the subjects I’ve trained for, and the other work is interesting as well because I CHOSE them specifically because it was something I knew about or was interesting in! It’s just getting over that “Well, what if I make a mistake? What if they don’t like my work? What if I do it wrong?” initial emotional mental blast, that’s what’s driving me nuts.
I even put off doing another entrance test today so I could write this blog post.
I can honestly partially blame this self-doubt on my head injury – because of the nature of head injuries, there was a long (YEARS) period where I couldn’t trust my eyes/ears/understanding. I would hear words that were not there, or not hear words that were. I would forget the meaning of the most basic, daily words. I would forget what I was saying AS I WAS SAYING IT. I would start something and completely forget what it was for. I couldn’t read because I would lose the story after about 3 lines.
I called the bank once to check on some strange activity on my account (which was not strange at all, but stuff _I_ had purchased) and about 1 minute after the lady started speaking to me, I forgot why I called. I could NOT remember.
As soon as I hung up… it came back to me.
But it’s been 14 years (end of this month) since my accident and I have made incredible progress in my recovery – built new neural pathways and discovered new ways of looking at things and doing things that I didn’t think I’d ever master again. I CANNOT hold the excuse up anymore. I am stronger than that; I am MORE than just a “survivor” of TBI.
The time has come to move on; to get over it, under it, or through it – whichever works.
Tomorrow is a new day and I must embrace it.
Counter the excuses, the ill-formed reasoning.
I must stop being afraid of making a mistake; stop being afraid of failure.
I can still strive for perfection, but not at the cost of efficiency or progress.