I hate when I mess up.
I really, really do.
I don't handle it well.
Being a perfectionist is bad that way.
Let me give you an example:
When: 1st Grade
Where: The drinking fountain in the 3rd grade hallway.
Remember in the 70's and 80's we used to have fluoride treatments at school?
"Swish and spit."
We got those little paper cups with liquid fluoride treatment in them.
We had to gargle for a minute and then spit it back in the cup.
We weren't allowed to swallow it or to get a drink for 15 minutes.
I hated it.
It tasted bad.
So, after a few times of this, I got "smart", or so I thought.
I would wait a minute or so and then ask to go to the bathroom.
My teacher would let me go, but would give the instruction NOT to get a drink of water.
I would lie and say, "Okay!", in my sweet little 6 year old way with my big brown puppy dog eyes.
And then I would head straight to the 3rd grade hall and get a drink at the drinking fountain.
By the 3rd or 4th time, I was feeling pretty confident that I had successfully pulled the wool over my teacher's eyes and was in the clear.
Until the time that, just as I lifted my head up out of the stream of water after taking a large gulp, there she was... all 5'11" of her, towering over me... with her arms folded across her chest, with a look that let me know I was in BIG. BIG. trouble.
"What are you doing, young lady?"
... "I'm... I'm..."
"Get back to your desk, right now."
And that's exactly what I did.
I laid my head down on my desk and cried, no... sobbed, the whole rest of the day.
It was a very long day.
It devastated me enough that I never forgot that experience and decided it wasn't worth it to tell lies.
Now this teacher is on my Facebook friend list.
I saw her last week and reminded her of this experience.
She didn't remember.
I guess it wasn't as devastating for her as it was for me. :)
Every time I mess up or fail at something it crushes me. You would think it wouldn't anymore at my age, but it still does. I have this ingrained push to be perfect... at everything. It's bad. Because I'm human and it's a 100% chance that I'm not going to be able to do everything I try perfectly. I'm so much better than I used to be though. I don't beat myself up quite as much as I used to.
Today I got to work and got a phone call from one of our customers. I work in a manufacturing plant. I take the orders and put them into production. I shipped an order last Friday. That was the order I got the call on this morning. It was delivered yesterday. I messed up - BIG TIME. I never caught my mistake. I sent the order confirmation and my customer didn't catch the mistake either. I had the guys in the plant make the wrong thing. And it was completely my fault because the purchase order from my customer was correct. I just didn't read it right. Luckily, my customer has the capability to fix my mistake at his location, but it will be a headache for them. I feel really bad. I apologized profusely. I sent this order out to the plant to be built last week when I was having my nightmare week of meltdowns. It's not an excuse, but it is an explanation as to how it happened.
If I was still my 6 year old self I would run away and cry somewhere, but thank heavens I'm not anymore. I feel bad, but everyone here has made a mistake like this before. I'm not the first and I won't be the last. This isn't my first mistake at my job either, but it is important that I stand up and take responsibility for it. I place my name on that mistake and own up to it. I admit that it's my fault and do my best to resolve the problem so that it won't turn into a bigger problem. It's not okay to pawn off my mistake onto someone else. It isn't right and it isn't honest.
It isn't the end of the world. Life will go on and it will have to be chalked up to a bump in the road and a reminder that I need to pay better attention to the paperwork as it crosses my desk before I send it out to be built. It's a life lesson. One that everyone has to learn - preferrably sooner in life than later, and one that we as parents should take care in teaching our children. We need to give them the freedom to fail so that they can learn that it is better to accept responsibility for the mistake, then fix it and move on, rather than try to hide it or act like it never happened. If we give them a safe place to come to for help when they mess up, they will be less likely to lie or try to hide things. It's important to let them be accountable for their choices and let them experience the consequences, but that doesn't mean we can't offer them a hug or a soft shoulder to cry on as they go through it. It's important to teach them this when they are little, making little mistakes, so that when they are teenagers or adults and have much bigger problems, they will have the strength and the courage to overcome them and put them behind them without expecting someone else to take the fall for their choices. It will teach them the importance of making GOOD choices to begin with and that life is so much easier that way.
Everyone messes up. It's inevitable. It's part of living and maturing. We shouldn't look at our mess-ups as a measure of whether we are a success or a failure. Instead, we should use those experiences to mold and shape us into better people. We can learn from our mistakes if we look at them in the right perspective. Besides all of that, when we own up to our mistakes and take resposibility for them, others will respect us and trust us. Being honest with others is just as important as being honest with ourselves.
Hmmm... isn't it funny that my 6 year old self learned such an important lesson at a drinking fountain so many years ago and I didn't even know it until now that that's when I learned it? Crazy how that happens, don't you think?