The Tiny Voice Inside My Head.

Yesterday afternoon, I stood there, and listened to someone tell me that my work wasn’t right. This is a recurring problem, she said. You do all this work and make it complicated, and none of it is the right work. Then she grilled me about the right work, and because I believed I DID actually do the work she was saying I didn’t do, I tried to point it out to her. And she told me that wasn’t right, either.

So I stopped talking. I shut down. And I just stood there, feeling demeaned and stupid and silenced.

When she was called into a meeting, and I was free again, my coworker looked at me with empathy, while I fought back tears. That didn’t sound like it went well, he said.

No. It did not, I admitted. It was all I could say.

It’s obvious as I write it out now that it’s really hard to work in this way. And even if her words felt like a personal attack, part of it is just her management style. And really, I’ve only a few more days of this before I move on to the next job.

But I have never felt more stupid than when she’s reviewing my work.

And last night, on my way home, in the quiet car, it was hard to ignore the niggling voice in my head.

She’s right, you know.

**********

Whenever I tell someone I am a CPA, I can almost SEE them putting me in this bucket inside their head. That bucket includes such things as: Good at math. Detail-oriented. Needs everything in their place. Understands taxes. 

I hate it. Because I am not good at math; I never have been. Detail-orientation does not come naturally to me – at least, not the way that accounting requires. I know enough about taxes to do my own.

I do require things to be in their place, and I understand how numbers work and flow into financial statements, and I am a fairly capable project manager, I’m quick and analytical, and I like orderliness.

But I have to work hard at accounting, because it does not come naturally to me.

So situations like yesterday’s are hard to shake, because I keep hearing this voice inside me.

She’s right. You aren’t good at this. Don’t you remember when your MSA professor told you that you lacked the detail orientation to be a successful accountant? You’re not good at math, you suck at the detail work.  You are NOT an accountant. You’re pretending.

And then I get sucked into the whole storm that’s been raging inside me for years: I chose this career for the wrong reasons, I need a PLAN so I can get out, blah blah blah blah. Or I grieve for the fact that I chose this career in the first place. Or I spend the time fighting against the feeling of being trapped by my life, because I can’t quit and do something I AM good at.

That voice is my mind’s story, I know. I hear it and I realize it’s trying to make a story up, because I don’t like feeling like I am bad at something.

I KNOW this voice isn’t real.

I just really wish I knew how to stop it.

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4 Responses to The Tiny Voice Inside My Head.

  1. Catwoman73 says:

    How awful. Working in medicine, I have had the experience of being publicly berated by physicians on more than one occasion, so I know from experience how it has the power to mess with your head. I sincerely hope the next job is a good fit for you- or at least that it is a better, more supportive environment.

  2. Jjiaffe says:

    I know what you mean – and it is hard not to take that kind of criticism to heart. And it can definitely prompt an existential “I suck at my job!” crisis. Whenever things go wrong for me, it can spiral into a tirade at myself about the fact that I chose a career that is the 6th most stressful job in America, more stressful than being a police officer or EMT. And my job is not saving anyone’s life, so the stress can sometimes seem pointless.

    That being said, on a purely rational basis, there are some elements of my job I excel at and some I have to work hard on. For a communications exec, I don’t LOVE to actually communicate all the time in-person, and I am not very outgoing, either. I don’t know, I think every career is going to have some aspects that aren’t a great fit. But if all or most aren’t, that is when there is a problem…

    Hopefully, the new job will be a good fit. I’m starting a new job, too! It’s exciting to have a fresh start…

  3. noemi says:

    How, how brutal to be spoken to in that way. That would totally crush me. Some people REALLY need to work on their people skills. Maybe you should slip her a copy of Crucial Conversations. 😉

    I was thinking as I read this about how I think of myself as a decent teachers, but I will never think of myself as a great teacher because my classroom management sucks. I am so good at so many aspects of teaching, but without the foundation of solid classroom management none of what I’m good at really matters. It’s so disheartening, because I could be so good, if only I could improve in this one area. But it’s just not who I am. It’s just not. I’ve read so many books, gone to so many trainings, implemented so many strategies, and while I’ve improved, I’m still not good at it. It’s never something I’m going to be good at, and it’s certainly never going to be something that comes naturally me. And it’s basically the most important part of teaching, because if you can’t manage your class, you can’t teach them anything.

    So I think I have an idea of what you’re feeling on this. And I’m sorry that woman is such an asshat.

  4. Deborah says:

    Hey, you were very helpful with MY taxes! ?

    I really could see you being good at project management. But o so think that sometimes, people keep jumping from one job to the next in search of something perfect, and they just substitute one set of problems for another. I’m lucky that I really do like my job now. But I’ve also done so much job-hopping, I think I’ve come to see that there will be problems everywhere I go. I’d rather have my moments of boredom or frustration at my current job than risk the unknown.

    Anyway, I hope nobody speaks to you like that at your new job!

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