Well, it’s been a minute.
I owe you, and me, three blog posts.
Today, I finished writing this fantastically long post for my $10+/month patrons on Patreon. It took days, throwing away drafts, revising–what I call real writing. So I’m glad. It’s about some really good things that have happened to me last month, which explains some of my absence.
What I can say about that is holding space for something that may or may never happen is never as good as letting go and opening up space for greater opportunities.
Unfortunately, you get the really bad things that have happened to me story. But there’s still a lot of growth, and it won’t be as down in the mouth as I have been historically.
And, for once, I will make this short.
Last month was really busy with a client doing work I used to do back in the day in my research days.
But since June, I had been consistently screwing up with data fidelity. I’m a recovering perfectionist, but this was becoming an expensive issue for my client and a perplexing situation for me.
I’m used to not only doing a good job–I’m used to excelling. I didn’t go through living in a hypercritical household with two narcissists as parents for nothing.
So when I kept trying to correct this problem, but getting the same result, I was in a state of insanity.
Admittedly, my client threw me in the deep end of their operation, and I thought I was swimming well, with some instruction, but not that much.
I thought I didn’t need it, and I didn’t even know what to ask to solve the problem.
As I started to sinking under continual screw-ups, including one that they didn’t catch for weeks, I realized that this wasn’t entirely my fault. And I’m used to taking on too much blame.
The client is super smart, the kind of smart that will skip over steps because they assume everyone knows what they know.
Last week, after I screwed up for umpteenth time, we had a terse conversation which I was still so confused why things were still a mess.
I was told that they would be in touch.
It took me two hours of my own time to figure out why things were a mess. It was something that would have taken less than 2 minutes to explain.
I told the client what I had discovered, apologized for the frustration, appreciated their patience and understanding.
I believe that phrase “I appreciate your patience and understanding” is what set them off, because it seemed like this wasn’t a big deal.
The ultimate consequences was hours and hours of work I did had to be redone (this was an error that my client didn’t catch after spending weeks with the data) and that I was constantly pinging people twice.
And that was spelled out in an email in reply to mine, 8 days ago, as if I didn’t know those things. That felt a bit insulting because I had spent the weekend before feeling terrible about the errors because of those very things listed.
I left the email laying there until last night. I knew I needed to sleep on it when I read it, because I felt like the client emotionally vomited all over me.
You’re to blame, you’re to blame, you’re to blame.
But I knew this wasn’t completely true.
I also knew I didn’t want to work with someone who couldn’t rightly see their own fault in the matter, that they were too busy to be bothered to look over my work, that they wanted me to take on more responsibility than I had been trained to take.
I talked to a friend about what to do, and he wisely advised me not to burn bridges–which I was ready to do.
He gently told me about how football (soccer) coaches will bring on some hotshot player for millions of dollars, but then he doesn’t perform. And then that player is sold to another team for less than what they had originally purchased.
I don’t think I’ve ever screwed up, knowingly or unknowingly, for so long and cost people time and money.
But it’s not unusual. It happens all the time, just like that football example. It just doesn’t happen to me–until this summer. First time for everything, right?
And I had been relying on that income to help as I grow my own writing business.
I then talked to my business coach who told me to not even address all the heated emotions.
She told me to offer a solution which I would be paid to create: a standard operation procedure manual (SOP) for what I had to do.
So going back and forth between my friend and my coach, I came up with a pithy email that was sent at midnight last night. I know it was read, but it hasn’t been responded to.
Whether I get a reply or not, wheter the I know I did the right thing.
- I took responsibility for my part.
- I didn’t reply immediately with a blowtorch email.
- I consulted wise counsel.
- I offered a solution.
While writing this post, the client emailed their reply. They said thanks for the offer, they were trying to get a report out which has gone through some changes, but it doesn’t make sense to them at this point.
I haven’t worked with that client going on two weeks, and I feel a lot better. And more writing work has started to trickle in.
I feel supported and I feel at peace.
The growth of accepting when I’m wrong, but consistently wrong–it was such a huge, painful growth spurt for me.
And my identity as some perfect android shattered. I couldn’t get myself out of this mess that I had help in creating. I found the limits to my alleged perfection.
I became human last month. And I’m grateful.
I feel emboldened to ask even more questions than usual.
I feel freed, period. I am free to be fallible, to be imperfect, to not ace it at first try.
I’ve always been the reliable one, the smart one, the strong one, the resilient one.
But this summer, I became pretty ordinary. And the humility was so necessary.
Who can live under such pressure to perform flawlessly every day? I thought I thrived under pressure, but not sorta kinda set up to fail pressure.
At the very least, I learned that although I did gain some pleasure from doing work I used to do years ago, I’m much happier writing and reading astrology and tarot.
It was and is so great to have two people in my life support me, take the flamethrower out of my hands, and give me some options that didn’t involve tearing myself or my client down.
I don’t have to villainize myself into a complete failure. I can forgive myself instead.
So now, I think of my inner child who has gotten so much succor and strength from being “the one,” the star, the leader, the brain, the local Old Faithful. But now, she can finally find her rest and comfort in being her full and fallible self.
She doesn’t had to be it all and do it all for anyone, and especially for herself.
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