I had my mid-year performance review last week. I updated my objectives and made comments on my performance the day before to prepare for the meeting. I had this overwhelming sense of shame that I had so many shortcomings when it came to my performance at my new job. I called my sponsor to discuss my feelings about it and to try to get some perspective.
During my discussion with my sponsor, she asked me to think about performance reviews in the past, and this helped. In every job in the past, I always feel like it could go really, really bad, and it’s never been that way. In this case, I really need to look at what is expected of me and not what I expect of myself. What I expect of myself is that I be a machine, never making mistakes, always at the ready to excel at any task. Yeah….not going to happen. AND, nobody expects that.
I know all the ways that I fell short during the year. I know the days that I was not focused. I know I could have done better. I know when my mind was elsewhere. I know the mistakes I made. I know what “I should be.” It’s really hard to evaluate yourself when you are so hard on yourself, and I am. When I met with my manager, he was totally happy with my performance. The only issue we discussed is how I could be more organized and focused to make myself feel better. He had no problem with my disorganization (my words), but he wanted me to feel better about it.
Until I started opening up to people about how I really feel, I never realized that I had such high expectations of myself. I never realized that other people had the same insecurities, falls from grace, shortcomings and imperfections. I was comparing my insides to what I saw on their outsides. I felt a great sense of relief when I realized that how they acted on the outside was not always congruent with what they felt on the inside. I also found out that many people thought I had “it all together” when I was a freaking mess on the inside. People I’ve met at the most troubled times in my life thought that they weren’t good enough for me because I was putting on such a good show. That is a driver for me to share what I really feel. You never know when someone is comparing their insides to my outsides.
A friend of mine said she was so relieved to read my blog about gaining weight. “It’s just so damn nice to know you’re not perfect. I kept thinking you must be exercising like a madwoman to keep from gaining weight,” she said. If you keep up with me on Facebook, you don’t know I’ve gained weight because I won’t post a picture that makes me look fat…haha…I’m not kidding. Come on ladies, you know the drill….the picture is taken and everybody gathers around to approve or not approve it. Sometimes we say, “Ok, you can post it, but don’t tag me.” Other times the response is, ” Aww… that looks great. Be sure to tag me.” Frequently, it’s, “No way…I look fat…old…goofy…or horrible. I’ll kill you if you post that.” Posting something like that would be like showing up in public in your morning face. No way…
We get this distorted image of ourselves and others because we only know the truth about ourselves. No matter how authentic we are, we still hide some things. There are some things that no one or very few people ever know. And, that’s the way it should be. There are reasons for privacy and dignity. But, I’m here to tell you……that thing you are embarrassed about or ashamed to admit…. I do it too. If I don’t do it, you can bet somebody else does….and they are hiding it from you. That streak of laziness that you have – another of your friends has it, too. Oh, yeah and that financial mess you are in; you are not alone. And, not only are you not alone, but there are droves of people in the same mess. Believe it.
So, what is the answer? Hell, I don’t know. What I do is recognize that there is no normal. I’m also working ferociously to be at peace with and accept my shortcomings. As for my performance at work, I’m going to meet with my boss once a month and go over my goals to help myself stay focused on what he thinks is important. I’m going to organize my desk a little better so that I’m not distracted so much during the day. Those things should help me feel better about myself. As for the rest of it, I’m a work in progress. Yes, I know that having wrinkles is so much better than dying young. I know that being fit is more important than being skinny. I know that being happily single is better than being in a bad marriage. I know all that in my head. On the inside…in my heart.….I struggle with those truths more than you know. So, don’t think I accept them as easily as they roll off my lips. It’s a daily battle for me…..just as it might be for you.