Dealing with my self-diagnosed failure everyday at a software company and learning to let it go.
I want to acknowledge that this will forever be a work in progress. My life, that is. A journey to unravel why I (and maybe you) put so much pressure to be the world’s greatest whatever.
I first started to recognize my failure fears when I began my career in technology. I am an art and design school graduate. I avoided classes that had anything to do with a mouse and a keyboard. So when I got offered a job at a local software company, all I had to show for my web-cred was two shitty “dreamweavered” websites.
What was a software company? What’s software? What that fuck is UI/UX? I became the company’s expert in a day. I’d look ill equipped if I asked them questions. It would show them I was an imposter. That they got the wrong girl. This was a job that had a salary that I could never have imagined an art student getting. I could not lose this opportunity.
This was the beginning of me pretending to be something that I didn’t understand. I took emotional lashings because I lacked self confidence. I did not see the perspective that they picked me because they saw huge potential. Instead, I immediately turned into a pressure cooker of self doubt. I imagined a scene where I’m an American Idol contestant that finds out that I’m a terrible singing turd of a person.
Five years later. Today.
I can call myself a software engineer, a designer, a UI/UX expert. Because time and experience backs up those claims. But do I still feel like I don’t know what I am doing? Yes of course. Do I feel like some one is going to find out what I huge fake I am? Daily.
Clients have paid a lot of money for me to know what I am doing. They pay for my opinions. My expertise. My talents. What happens when my inside voice doesn’t match my clients’ expectations? Panic.
Even if the client is delighted and approves of the work that I have completed. I find it hard to get any feedback without self depreciation. Like most humans, there could be ten words of praise but the one thing that was critiqued is the only thing I hear and hold on to. I failed. And that one small thing can break my spirit. It reinforces the evidence I’m not a good fit for this job. I astral project myself and see myself as the client and I KNOW what they think about or will see from my work. Interpreting every sigh as a slight, and I hear compliments as hidden criticism. It is a way to keep nega-me in check so that my shitty perception of my talent is validated.
Its has been only recently that I am recognizing what I’m doing to myself. This lack of trust, love, and belief in myself keeps me in a self imposed lower level.
Recognition is the beginning of the way out. I breathe in and remind myself that I got hired because I am good at what I do, with one day of practice or five years. I need to always trust my gut. That’s what I have been using since the start of my career. I’ve begun to recognize that failure is not a dead end; it is part of the process of becoming kickass. I’m a practicing self enthusiast and I have a lot of learning to do.
In parting, I bestow some advice to those that might feel the way that I do. Recognize your patterns and your cognitive distortions of events. Are you filtering out the positives? Are you highlighting the things that went poorly? Know that others are trying to hide their insecurities and weirdness. Embrace that screwing up is ok, you learn from it. If you don’t know everything it is ok.
Absorb compliments and actually let them mean something positive. Validate and remember the good instead of just the bad. And remember there is always tomorrow to use what you have learned from yesterday’s failures.