My first full time job out of college was retail sales. Fun gig since I was in gorgeous Palo Alto and had the likes of Larry Ellison throwing around money like it was grass seed. I stayed in the game for a while. I sold stuff I believed in, worked where I wanted to for the discount. Got to talk to professional baseball players about how to package their package.
It was fun. But you stay long enough, people want to make you a manager. And who doesn’t like the heady stuff of being promoted, making more money? That’s what I thought!
But I sucked. It wasn’t Christmas every day, not all of my sales staff had my love of jeans, and gah, I couldn’t style a store to save my life.
I moved on after that firing to something I thought I would be really good at: customer service. It was with a start up in North Beach and the pay was excellent. I loved that we would all go a neighboring bar for $2 Guinness. The energy was contagious.
But I lacked some significant computer skills. Apparently being able to find men on Craigslist didn’t prepare me to work with Yale grads who spoke computer code.
I tried and I tried. I worked really hard and way more hours than the job required, just to keep up. I did the customer care side of my job with exceptional grace and kindness and our customers loved me but when it came to the technical stuff I was a failure.
And it showed.
The business took off and I couldn’t keep up. And I was let go.
The shame of not being able to do that job hung around my neck for years as I worked at a shitty job for 1/3 less pay. I still feel that failure when I struggle with a new skill.
I’ve had another personal failure. I made an obligation to do something big, challenging, life changing. I struggled to prepare for this event and I asked for support. As the date drew nearer I felt more and more uneasy about it. And then life happened. Ear infections, job drama, a sick and dying cat.
I was sick when I told my dear friend that I couldn’t keep my promise. I had been depressed for several weeks as life unfolded around me and my failure to prepare for it became more apparent. I was miserable for the two days leading up to talking to her. I was ashamed.
And then something crazy happened.
When I owned my failure, when I put it out there, honestly ticking off the reasons why I couldn’t fulfill my obligation it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Admitting that I’m no longer the “I can do ANYTHING” 20 something, OWNING my humanity, and admitting defeat was like a personal victory. I can breathe.
I will fall down again. I will fail again. And I’m okay with that.