Growing Pains: A Confession

I remember it like it was yesterday. Most likely because it was.

It was a rough day emotionally. Ever have days where you feel beat up, then you feel worse because you’re hard on yourself for allowing yourself to feel beat up? And the cycle spirals downward. Until you get your hands on some chocolate.

That’s what yesterday was for me.


I woke up a little earlier than normal, and got right to work on something I had forgotten to do the night before. It wasn’t a big deal, as I had plenty of time before it needed to be done. Still, I couldn’t believe I’d allowed myself to forget something so simple. Idiot.

Then I got a message a former client of mine needed a different VA who had experience in things I could barely pronounce. I’m fully supportive of a client having exactly who they need, but when it’s not ME, it’s hard not to feel second-rate. I haven’t acquired a skill-set or talent, therefore I’m pretty much a loser who has nothing to offer. Forget the fact my other clients praise my work. I missed out on one. So I must really suck.

Then there’s this whole writing thing I do. I blog. I write for our local paper. I hammered out an entertaining piece yesterday I thought would be a good submission for my next article, and sent it to my husband for review. He didn’t give me the 5-star response I was hoping for. He told me, “I’m used to there being a moral to the story. Is it acceptable to just tell a story with no deeper meaning?” I got huffy in a sarcastic-funny kind of way. But it got me thinking.

When I write, it’s because something happens or pops into my head, and I’ve got to get it down right then. I don’t plan posts – or when I do – it’s not my best stuff. I reflected on the articles I’d submitted to our paper this year – one of which I absolutely despised, but wrote it because I couldn’t think of anything else. They had no common theme. No central voice. Just me, being random, submitting things prior to a deadline.

Looking for more 5-star responses, I reached out to my editor and friend, asking her if I should reign in my voice, and stick with a theme, or if my randomness was as awesome as I hoped she would tell me it was. I asked her for honest, disciplined feedback. She’s a good friend in the sense that she gave me the honest, disciplined feedback I asked for, and frankly, needed to hear.

Folks, I’ve got some work to do. And when I hear these things about myself and realize I’ve still got such a long way to go, it tears me up. I can’t even tell you why. If you asked me if I want to grow, improve, and define myself as an employee, as an author, as a person – I’d tell you, without even a hint of hesitation, “absolutely”. Yet, when the realization presents itself (and gets all up in my face so there’s no denying it) I still have a lot of growing to do, a lot of improving to do, and it’s not going to just happen because I want it to, it stings. And the negative self-talk takes over my life.

Yesterday it all caught me at just the wrong time, in just the wrong mood, with just the wrong receptors. I sulked. I fussed. I shut down.

Remember the Verizon commercials where every four seconds the guy asked, “Can you hear me now?” and it was funny but a little bit annoying? I’m that guy. I’m constantly on the prowl for affirming feedback. “Great blog post, Val.” What about now? Is this one great? Is it great now? What about this one? What about now?

Gosh it’s annoying. It’s annoying I can’t be satisfied with a simple, genuine compliment. I have to analyze and question and wonder why they like this, but didn’t say anything about that. What about now? Am I good enough now? Am I funny? Am I intelligent? Insightful? Can we still be friends? What about now? Ugh.

Yesterday was rough. I don’t have those days often, but when I de-rail, it’s more than simply sliding off the tracks. I completely fall over and lie helplessly in the dirt of my own despair. I’m the Eeyore of this day and age.

I dunno. I dunno how to learn lessons without having the scars to prove it. Maybe scars are part of the deal. Maybe growth only comes with a little bit of being hurt, and that’s why we call it “growing pains”. Maybe I’m not as tough, and a lot more arrogant than I thought I was. Maybe it will be better today. It’s not just the scars I have to live with – it’s the story that goes with them. Here’s to making it a great story.