Sep 25, 2013

my all-consuming, life-altering mistake

After some careful research and calculations ( I googled), I have deduced that the average person probably spends about 67% of their life trying not to make mistakes. The other 33% is spent sleeping. For a perfectionist like myself, the percentages may vary slightly, seeing as how we spend some of our sleeping hours worrying about and planning for the avoidance of any possible future mistakes.

Don't say the wrong thing, don't fail the test, don't be late for work, definitely do not wear that shirt with that skirt, don't make a wrong turn, don't marry the wrong guy, don't burn dinner. You know, the list goes on.

I'd like to think that I'm doing a pretty good job. I mean, I have made it my life's work after all. At this stage in life I seem to have all the appropriate bases covered with no major regrets or skeletons in my closet.

The funny thing is, in the very act of trying to avoid mistakes, I have been making my biggest, all-consuming, life-altering mistake:

I have been allowing my fear of failure to hold me back.

I don't feel at home in the kitchen, and panic at the idea of entertaining and feeding people in my home. Is this because that one time I tried to make my mom a birthday cake it came out like lopsided rubber and everyone laughed?  (I believe so.  I was still in Elementary School at the time, by the way.)

I hate driving, really hate it, and will avoid it at all costs.  Is this perhaps because I failed my learners permit test the first time around? (The stupid one with just the signs... it was the single most embarrassing moment of my life for the longest time.  I still don't tell people about that.)

don't let this girl near your boat!  maybe don't give her any power tools, either.
I second guess myself and feel completely uncomfortable in "handy man" situations.  Is this because I really screwed up the windows on the boat that one, really embarrassing time? (Yes, yes it is.)

I don't handle mistakes well, obviously.  Not even the little ones!  Because even the little stuff seems to give me a complex.  "I'm not good at this because, that one time..." I don't really know what the cure is for this.  I am starting to get a little better about laughing at myself, though.  I mean, usually after a session of mortified bawling, that is.

I'm a work in progress, and it's a little slow going.  So, help me, please.  Do you have the same fear of making mistakes?  What do you do?  How do you shake off the mistakes and keep on going without allowing the self doubt to creep in?

 

19 comments:

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  2. I so, so, so hate driving too! I can do it, but not without a stress bath. You're not alone there...I much rather be chauffeured and just enjoy the ride!

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  3. You're speaking my language doll! I can lay awake at night and think about mistakes I made or awkward situations for hours if I'm not careful! Loved this post!

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    1. I know that I shouldn't worry about these things, but you're right, it's so hard not to! Now that you mention it, that is probably one of the reasons it takes me so long to fall asleep at night!

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  4. Absolutely. I can relate to this post. Most recently I turned down a job, mostly out of fear, and then realized how much I likely missed. Regrets of not seizing opportunity are turning out to be, for me, far worse than regrets from having seized them. I plan to remind myself of this next time. Sometimes it helps me just to jump in, feet first, instead of merely dipping my toes into risk, the way its easier to dive into a cold pool than ease in. Just squeeze my eyes shut and go for it. I also give myself grace. I hope you do too.

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    1. You make a good point about regretting missed opportunities. There was some quote from a movie that really stood out to me (We Bought a Zoo, I think it was?), "sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of courage," or something like that. It's so true, though! I hope that another amazing opportunity arises for you out of passing over that job. :)

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  5. Oh yes, I share in the feeling of just deciding I can't/won't do things because I have messed it up in the past! Also, I just read through your last ten or so posts and I can't believe your sailing adventure!! It sounds so fun and exciting and also I totally understand your worries about the small space, not sure if you'll feel clean again, etc. Haha it will be really fun to read along as you figure it all out!

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    1. Why do we let it get to us? Too often we are our own worst critics and that holds us back from doing so many things we are most likely perfectly capable of!

      Haha, I'm sure I will have plenty of mishaps and stories to relate as I try to figure it all out. :)

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  6. Being a "perfectionist" is the worst label anyone can ever stick themselves under. It's okay to have high standards and to not want to screw up, but just as you realized, if you don't give yourself that room to learn and grow, you're not living.

    It's also hard to manage expectations. I'm not all that comfortable with handy projects and I haven't done a whole lot of them, so I know that I'm not going to be able to go out the first time and perfectly install a new tile floor or hang cabinets when we redo our kitchen. We're doing the Home Depot workshops, reading books, watching tutorials, and allowing that we're probably going to have to have someone check our work to make sure we did it right. Will I die of embarrassment if I screwed something up? Nope. Will I groan because I'm going to have to work fixing it? Yup. But allowing myself that latitude to learn and the expectation that I'm NOT going to be perfect right out of the gate has helped me take on a lot of challenges in life.

    Looking forward to your sailing adventure! Tackle all those challenges, but give yourself room to learn!

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    1. You are so right, it really is an awful label.

      That's such a great idea to take workshops! I didn't even know that they offered something like that. Part of my problem is that my dad and husband are both extremely handy, so I have a lot to live up to. I probably should take some some kind of course by myself just to catch up a little, haha. Good for you! And good luck on your kitchen redo! I'm sure it will be a ton of work, but it's pretty exciting, too. And it will be so rewarding knowing that you have done a lot of it yourself.

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  7. I can relate to this so much. I used to never want to cook because I thought I couldn't, and now I love being in the kitchen, and I've found that I'm quite the baker (being a perfectionist actually suits baking quite well, since it is a science). I used to not drive on freeways because I was terrified- I even had my mom drive me whenever I needed to use a freeway (up until age 28, when I said enough is enough). Now I drive the freeway to work every day (I hate the commute, but it's not as bad as I had worked it up to be).

    I'm harder on myself for small mistakes- awkward lulls in conversation, talking too much with someone new, tripping over words because I'm nervous. But I push on and try not to let it hold me back by telling myself, "don't sweat the small stuff." It's simple, but it's been helping me a lot to keep in mind the bigger picture and how those small mistakes are just blips that don't matter.

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  8. You have an amazing way with words Allison, and manage to describe emotions and fears so many of us have in a beautiful way. I think us women in particular suffer from perfectionism expectations, thinking we have to do it all, and do it perfectly, no mistakes allowed.
    You are not alone! We have to let go of this ridiculous notion, and allow us to be human, which means making mistakes.

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  9. For someone who doesn't feel at home in the kitchen, you sure make some very tasty looking things! I don't like driving too. Well, not the actual driving part. More the parking part of it. And that needs to be done. Eventually.

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    1. Honestly, I actually really enjoy photographing food and I think that has made me a little bit more excited about cooking. But even so, all of my recipes are pretty easy. :)

      Parking, and parking lots in general are the absolute worst!

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  10. My fear of making mistakes even extends to other people! I can't watch movies without hiding behind my hands when I just know that something is about to go wrong. (My fiance always wonders why I seem to get scared during romantic comedies.) While being terrified of movie mistakes only seems to be getting worse for me, I think my real life fear is getting better because I'm learning to not over think things. I'm still a work in progress though!

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    1. Haha, I know what you mean! I cringe for any kind of fictional character making a mistake. :)
      That's great that you're making progress, though! Good for you! Over thinking is definitely one of my issues, too.

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  11. I think that's many people's same fear! I don't fear making mistakes, but I fear being defined by them, I think. When a mistake happens I just want to brush it away so quickly! I don't know if that's a good or bad thing... probably a little of both.

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  12. I don't know if I can help. I refuse to touch a baseball because I am horrible at throwing. For someone who loves sports, the fact that I throw like a girl is just the worse thing to ever happen to me.

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  13. I'm of no help either... I hate to make mistakes, I hate to stick my foot in my mouth, or use poor judgment. I hate that I poured diesel into the gasoline lawn mower and now every time I fuel it up, I worry. Haha.

    But I've sort of found that time is the best healer of all, of anything. I either begin to forget or the realization that maybe it wasn't such a big deal. But like you, turning into something funny is the best. As long as I'm not too bummed... ;)

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