Nov 26, 2012

Day 6/30: Hardest Experience- The Story Of That One Time I Really, Really Screwed Up Big Time

Day 6 of Cherishing Hopes 30 Things is “What is the Hardest Thing You Have Ever Experienced?” If I’m being quite honest with you, I’ve been dreading this post the most out of the entire challenge. I’ve considered writing something less hard- maybe a break up or something that hurt me but didn’t make me question myself nearly as much. I feel like that would be false though and I don’t want to sugar coat anything here on this blog. Quite frankly, as much as I love you for reading this blog (and I genuinely hope you get something out of this!) this is my space to be real. I’m not perfect. I mess up. I make mistakes. Life is a journey & every day brings new learning experiences. I’d prefer to only have positive experiences and never ever mess up ever but then I wouldn’t be real. I don’t want to mislead you with some glamourized blog where I only post the good things. I want you to know that everyone struggles. So, I’ve decided to be honest and real and share this story with you. I’m so nervous to share with you because this is one of those moments I wish I could just sweep under the rug and never have to talk/think about again but life doesn’t work that way and sometimes you have to just admit when you are wrong. So here it is-
Photo by Meg White Photography
The Story Of That One Time I Really, Really Screwed Up Big Time, Acted Like A Complete Drama Queen, Still Think I Had A Point But Failed In A Really Huge Way And Was So Embarassed I Wished I Could Just Curl Up Under A Rock and Hide Forever-
A little over a year ago I took on a huge project working with some girls I had watched grow up since elementary school (they are in their late teens now). I had wanted this position for a long time. I took classes, made a huge folder of ideas, got competition information, ordered props/signage, wrote letter after letter begging for this opportunity. I fought hard and I wanted it so badly.
After countless emails and phone calls and basically annoying the crap out of the appropriate people, I was offered the position. I was elated. I was so sure I was going to succeed. Because, you know, if you want something that badly then you can’t possibly fail, right? Welcome to DestinyLand- where the world is all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns all the time.
So, I embarked on a journey that at the time I thought was going to be this big, fun creative outlet but ended up changing me permanently and really making me question who I was and what I stood for.
I wanted to be a positive influence. I wanted to instill confidence and pride. Do you know the worst part? I really believed I could turn the defeatist attitude around. I was going to do this. I was going to be such a success not necessarily on the floor but in the mental aspect. I was going to help these girls grow and understand that you have to have confidence to succeed. I was going to make a difference. It’s tough dreaming big, you know that?
Anyways, I noticed one day that nothing I was doing was working. I wasn’t changing the attitude of this group. They weren’t more confident. They weren’t striving for success. They weren’t fighting through the fear of failure. This frustrated me. I heard “Gosh, we suck!” so many times that finally I just had it. I thought maybe I was going about this the wrong way.  I had tried to play nice and it just wasn’t working. I wasn’t there to be their friend; I was there to be a mentor. So I put my foot down. I lost my tolerance for fear. I felt like we had just given up. If we couldn’t get something immediately, we convinced our minds we couldn’t get it. Try as I may, I couldn’t motivate them to push past that fear.
So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? I started to feel defeated. Maybe I should give myself the Biggest Hypocrite EVER award, right?!
The absolute last straw broke a few days before our big debut. I had worked really hard on a project for us (actually, we had done it as a team) and at the last minute the girls came forward and didn’t want to use what we had worked on. Not one of them, but all of them together. In hindsight, it wasn’t even that big of a deal.
Given the recent events though all I heard was DEFEATED. All I heard was “we are scared we aren’t ready so we don’t want to try”. I felt attacked that they all came forward at once (which, honestly, I can see why they did it. There’s power in numbers.) I felt disappointed in myself and in my group. I felt frustrated that I had worked on something and it wasn’t even going to be used. I felt frustrated that it was the absolute last minute to come forward. I felt angry with myself that I couldn’t motivate them-I couldn’t get them to try. I was tired and frustrated and disappointed in myself. So, naturally, I took it out on everyone around me.
I don’t know where I’ve heard it but somebody told me recently that “Hurt people hurt people” and I’ve thought about how right that is nearly a hundred times since then. I was hurt. While I can’t say I was completely wrong (maybe it’s just my hurt pride talking but I wanted them to work past that fear of failure and be confident in who they had become as a group), I can definitely say I handled it poorly. I informed them (in nothing short of true Drama Queen style) that they were wasting my time. I let them know that I was absolutely sick of the attitude, sick of hearing how horrible we are, and was most certainly not going to make the mistake of doing this again next year. If they didn’t like the way things were done, they could just leave. I was in charge. It wasn’t my job to be their friend. I was there to do a job.  I wasn’t going to apologize for putting my foot down and boy I sure did put my foot down- right into a big giant ole pile of manure.
Because they did walk out. Every last one of them. They didn’t return the next day (except for 2 of them who I am convinced are nothing short of saints and are probably the only reason I didn’t completely keel over with embarrassment right then and there. Even the girls who weren’t there when D-zilla attacked didn’t come back. Rumor had it they had decided to boycott because if no one came then I wouldn’t have a group so I’d be forced to step down and they could rebuild their group with another leader  (Whether that’s true or not, I guess I will never know and I would like to just take a second to say that that is complete hearsay and I very truly believe that every one of those girls  was such a complete blessing in my life and have shaped me in a million different ways and taught me more about myself than I would ever have imagined) and that is exactly what happened.
If you are reading this and thinking “WOAH! WAIT! You just gave up?” then first of all I’d just like to say BLESS YOUR LITTLE HEART for not thinking that I was just so out of my element that I didn’t stand a fighting chance at ever succeeding and that I’m the worst leader ever and deserve to be shunned for life! You are so sweet. And yes, I just gave up. I basically had 2 choices in this scenario. I could either beg the girls to come back to the project or I could give them exactly what they wanted and step down.
So I stepped down.
I fought long and hard with that decision. Pride is such a powerful thing and when your ego is bruised, sometimes you just want to stomp your foot up and down and yell “I’M RIGHT! YOU’RE WRONG! YOU can apologize to ME! I’m NOT sorry! I will NOT give you what you want” but I wasn’t completely right and they weren’t completely wrong. There is no black or white with a defined line that says “this separates the winners from the losers”. There are two sides to every argument. I tried to step back and see both sides.
At the end of the day, I knew I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted to. I asked myself if I thought I’d be able to accomplish it now after everything that had transpired and my honest answer was no. I was fighting against defeat and being defeated. The irony was certainly not lost on me. I wanted to try to turn this into something positive on both ends and stepping down seemed to be the easiest way.
I was in over my head. I couldn’t make a difference but maybe someone else can. Why not let the group rebuild and just keep positive thoughts out there that someone will be able to turn things around- someone who may not have as much on their plate or who doesn’t let their emotions get the best of them so easily?
I don’t know why it was so hard to force a smile and walk into that office and say “Listen, I can’t do this. I was wrong to take this on and I’m over my head.” Darn that stupid ego of mine! But somehow I managed to walk in and mutter out those exact words. Thank God that no one tried to argue with me because I was literally one smile away from hysterical bawling. I failed.
I was mortified at how public it ended up being. Somehow, I got turned into this raging monster who was walking all over my group. People commended them for their behavior and for not letting me step all over them like a doormat. Someone posted about it on Facebook and literally got dozens of likes from people who I thought were my friends. Comments like “I was just waiting for someone to have a problem with her!” came from people I felt like I had gone out of my way to be nice to.
Yes, I’m blogging this story now and basically insuring that becomes very public and here is why-
You can avoid judgment if you try hard enough, I’m sure. But this experience is a part of me and played a vital role in shaping me to be who I am today, in this moment. I don’t want to lock it away in my mind and never tell anyone about it out of shame. I want to revel in how human it is to fail. I want to accept that this is a part of me and that I’ve made mistakes. I sometimes run into people I know from around that time or who know some of my girls and I find myself thinking “Gosh, what they must think of me!” or “I wonder if they know what happened…” and you know what, now they know. Now you all do. Now you know that I’m not perfect and I’m human and I fail and life gets messy. That’s what I should have titled this blog because I say it all time and I mean it- life is messy.
The negative events in your life are growing moments. Surely we all have those moments that we wish we had acted differently. I can’t be alone in this, can I? Don’t fret over those moments. Forgive yourself for being flawed and embrace change. Don’t like that person you were or the decisions you’ve made? Vow to be better. I will tell you that this event has helped define me and change me in so many ways. I have learned so much through this experience and I am truly grateful for it.
Here’s the thing about judgment- if you are going to point a finger, make sure your hands are clean. There are two sides to every argument and so often we hear one side and assume we know it all. What you don’t hear is the feeling or the thought pattern of the other people involved. I’ve learned that everyone has a story. When we learn that and embrace that, it enables us to treat people with so much more patience and compassion.
I swear sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.
We all have a story. This is mine. What’s yours? (If you want to share and don’t want to leave it in the comments you can contact me via the “Contact” button in the navigation bar!) I’d love to hear from you.  Let’s embrace messy life and mistakes together!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The best thing anyone can do is learn from their mistake. Because EVERYONE makes them!
Love ya,
MAC :-)