It is human to not get it ‘right’ first time. Are we just too hard on ourselves?

Mental Health Uncategorized

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Why is achievement seen as almost platinum when you get it right first time? It’s like a broken record, really, isn’t it? If we don’t quite grasp a technique, or pass an exam or achieve a ‘high’ standard, many of us (me included) then pursue a path of bucket loads of self-discipline, waves of self-criticism, and lengthy sessions of over-thinking in a bid to get it right next time. It is good to be determined, but do we have to be so hard on ourselves along the way?

Achievement is my most fond friend and my dreaded nemesis at the same time. When it comes bounding through the door because I’ve passed my driving test the FIRST time, or mastered a new bar chord in the first 3 nano secs of learning it, it is well and truly welcomed. However, with the new struggles of not having the safe cradle of University or a provided direction of where to go next, and how to do it, I’m facing daily obstacles where the ‘miraculous’ event of nailing something on the first go seems to have flown RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW

It’s allowed me to recognise that difficulties, working hard to revisit something or even taking time away to return to it at a later date are firstly human, and secondly, more than ok! Post moving back home from my brief move to London, I was getting email after email starting with the painfully dreaded ‘Thanks so much for applying … but we regret to inform you’ spiel (love that word) every other time I applied for a job. I wasn’t getting the self-esteem fulfilling ‘Interview callbacks’ from the word go.

So… as so many of us fall into doing, I began a tough and disciplined review of myself because of this. I felt a pressure to be achieiving the success of interviews FIRST TIME.

Because that is what we push so much in society isn’t it?

It causes us to give a tight deadline, or ticking clock onto what can already be challenging situations. Not only do we have to graft and master whatever we are aiming for, but if it isn’t achieved at early doors, we then slap a the timer on and push push push.

Zipping back to the driving test scenario, how many times have you spoken about it with your mates or to your cousins at the family BBQ in the middle of summer and they begin with… ‘ Did you pass your test first time?’. Or when holding a chat at a Uni pre-drinks where you’ve got to that point where the VK’s are making you feel slightly philosophical and you and the new pal want to discuss the future. This leads you both into reviewing how you’ve done so far and if you’ve passed all your modules … argh god, I’m gonna say it… ‘The first time’! I understand, it is great and should be celebrated when we achieve our goals so promptly.

But, I failed a module in my second year and took the summer to retake it. Throughout this process, I was too strict and detrimental toward myself, stopping myself from going out for a drink on the Marina or even having an afternoon kip! There was no benefit from doing this, my mind was frazzled from being stuck on the fact I hadn’t got it right in the first place and not enjoying the realm of being given a chance to do it again and enjoying and learning from that process. Needless to say, I passed. But I would have passed as a far more happy gal if the self-hardship had been discarded. Arguably, this could be described as simply being driven. And hey, that is a positive attirubute right? Yes, but being determined is defined as:

‘Possessing or displaying resolve’ 

There is no note in sight of picking ourselves apart of wading through pressure.

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I might get it right on the 10th time, is that alright?

Looking forward, I am not usually so assertive on thoughts and feelings, but I feel as generations are growing up in an ever-tightening society that exclaims ‘you must do this by then, but please please don’t do this like that’ and so on … we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. Achieving is simply to ‘successfully reach’ whatever it is your chasing after, but to get there you don’t have to sprint and leap the hurdle on the first lap. You could take a slow stroll and if you feel a few laps would help you more- take them.

Recently, I’ve wasted so much precious time picking what I do apart because things haven’t settled into place the first trip around. It is torturous in a way because we can only do so much at once. And the little wins should be what is celebrated. The growing process should be what is ‘clinked’ to with that glass of prosecco (mmm).

If you are reading this, and you are nose to nose with challenges that are taking a few walks around the block before anything seems to feel achievable. Take a breath and look at what you’ve done so far, you’ve already achieved just by trying. Seriously, you should already be proud.

Keep going and be happy with who you are, how you’re doing it and what you’ve done. 

If you do, I will …

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