Saturday, March 28, 2009


I have this...problem. A neurosis, a bad habit, whatever you want to call it, this has been with me as long as I can remember. I want it to go away, I want to stop feeling like this, but I don't know how.

See, if I have to be taught something, I feel like a failure. If someone has to tell me something, explain anything to me, or show me how something works, my feeling is that any progress I may have made or any accomplishments, either past or future, in that area, are essentially null and void. My work is worthless if I had to be taught or told something, rather than just figuring it out myself.

Of course, I know exactly where this came from. Even as a very small child, if I asked my mom to help me with something, her response was "If you're so fucking smart, why can't you figure it out yourself?" Not "How about I help you work it out?" or any similar encouraging suggestions. No offer of support while still allowing me to explore my own world. Either I figured everything out entirely on my own, or anything I accomplished was worthless. Entering school only made the problem worse. If I hadn't read ahead in the textbook and learned the concepts before they were actually taught in class, if I had to be "told by the teacher just like everyone else in the class," my intelligence and work were immediately rendered moot, at least in Mommy Dearest's opinion. I'm pretty sure that's how I ended up in AcTal. Not because I'm actually "gifted" in any way, but because I spent kindergarten through grade four trying so hard to be good enough for my mother that I somehow garnered the same level of attention as people who are now at least working toward becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers. Fancy that-me, the future drug-addled teen mom who would barely finish high school four years late, in the same class as future fucking world leaders. I knew there was a mistake somewhere.

Anyway, one of the things I've worked so hard on since gaining my freedom is getting that shit out of my head. Rationally, I know that I can't be expected to just absorb everything through osmosis, or have a preemptive basic working knowledge of every subject I will ever encounter. And even though I pride myself on being a fast learner, I will occasionally struggle with some subjects or tasks. That doesn't mean that I can't perform those tasks and become fluent in that subject matter, even excel in those areas-just that it may take me longer to reach that level of fluency than I would like. And rationally, I know that what is amazing about me is not necessarily natural genius, but my willingness to throw myself into learning and to work as hard as it takes for as long as it takes to achieve my goals. I even know that it's stupid to compare myself to my former classmates, because while I certainly have a few areas of privilege that I have to face, what I don't have is class privilege or the privilege of a supportive family. That means that I wasn't starting on equal footing with many of them, and therefore can't be fairly expected to finish on equal footing. But that doesn't make it any easier to placate the ten year old inside who still believes that unless she figures it out for herself, absorbs all the information in record time and does everything better than everyone else, none of that hard work and basic reality matters in the slightest.

Right now, for example, I am typing with puffy eyes and a runny nose caused by spending the last half hour in tears. I've been struggling with my sales closing at work. Now, my sensible, grown-up, "recovery brain" tells me that closing a sale, especially the sale of a very specialized product, is not "basic knowledge." Even more so when that closing is done in a very specialized, scripted way dictated by the office rather than by your own situational judgment. This is like nothing I have ever done before. I shouldn't feel bad that after three tries in the field by myself, my boss doesn't feel that I've quite gotten it down. Three attempts at a brand-new skill not ending in complete success (I haven't even done what could be called "failing" at this, just haven't performed completely up to par with more experienced people) does not make me an idiot or a failure. The fact that my boss wants to review some concepts with me and do a little review/training on Monday doesn't mean that I'm stupid. At least, I hope not. See, that's how fucked up I am-I don't even know if I'm being hard enough on myself here.

Anyway, that's the part of my brain that is having so much trouble right now. The fact that I haven't fully developed this skill after three tries, that I have to be taught more about it, is killing me. I feel like a failure and a moron.

So, how do I fix this? How do I start believing the sane part of my mind instead of the part that probably just got punched one too many times when I was a kid?