When making a mistake feels like the end of the world
Every day when I clock into my shift, the first thing I have to do is check my email to see if I’ve gotten any QC’s back. QC’s are reports from my team leads after they’ve reviewed my work so I can see what mistakes I made.
Aka my worst nightmare.
I don’t handle mistakes well. Every single one feels like a reason why I’m a failure, rather than an opportunity to learn and grow. Which is what they are, and what I always tell other people they are. Nope, for me, they’re just a big fat arrow pointing at me to remind the world how much I suck.
I can tell myself forever that I don’t need to beat myself up, but man. My heart races every time and I feel the heat rush to my face. Sometimes I have to fight not to tear up and usually my hands shake for a while. Which is really annoying, by the way. The thoughts that run through my head after I realize I’ve messed up are not great. (Understatement.) They’re the exact opposite of what I’d tell a friend in the same position, and I hate that I can’t support myself as easily as I can almost anyone else.
One small mistake at work seems like the perfect justification to fire me or hate me. Or both. I’m not proud of this. It’s honestly one of my worst qualities because it throws me into a terrible mood instantly and brings out this whiny, self-pitying side that isn’t attractive on anyone.
Like, the other day I accidentally put one page under two different bookmarks, which basically just meant I couldn’t submit the file until I fixed it. It took literally two seconds to fix. I wish I was one of the people who could forget about something like that after a minute, but I can guarantee you I’ll think about it for another week. I know that it’s minuscule and ridiculous to get so worked up, but my brain is nothing if not a ball of anxiety and self-doubt.
Maybe it’s just that it’s my first job and I already feel like I’m so behind everyone I know. Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s still so new. I don’t really know. My job isn’t particularly difficult, but there’s been a lot to learn in a short span of time. Realistically, I know that I still have time to learn and figure things out. I just can’t help but get mad at myself when I’m reminded that I haven’t figured them out already.
I’m not the only one who deals with this, right? I guess I wanted to
talk ramble about it because it’s always nice to know someone’s in the same boat. Although, now is the part where I wish I had some great advice but… I’m still sort of flailing my way through life.
The one thing I’ve found that helps at least a little bit is forcing myself to stop for a minute and try to think about the situation logically. Logic isn’t some magic solution for anxiety because anyone who’s ever dealt with it knows it’s entirely irrational. Over time, it does help though. It doesn’t take it away, but reminding yourself of what’s real and what isn’t sometimes makes it just a little more bearable.
Anyway, I basically interrogate myself. There’s probably a better way to go about it, but I like to be mean to myself apparently. The first thing I ask myself is: how big was the mistake? Cue panic. But sometimes it helps to stop and really look at the situation. Was it actually a huge mistake or did it just feel that way because of my anxiety? Is it easily fixed? Chances are, it’s not that big of a deal and I just need that moment to remind myself.
I also like to try and consider it from another perspective. If my team leads aren’t upset with me, there’s no reason for me to be freaking out. Another way to look at it is as if your best friend had made the mistake instead of you. Would you be as harsh? Would you laugh at them for panicking over something so tiny? If you’re like me, the answer is probably no.
I wish I was the kind of person who had it all together and could tell you step by step how to get over the fear of making mistakes, but I don’t. All I can offer you are the horror stories of me trying to cry at my cubicle without anyone else noticing. Maybe one day soon I’ll figure it out, or maybe you’ll get there first and share your secrets with me.