I’m starting to wonder about my desperate search to appear competent. I’ve just started a new job and, like any new thing, it scares me more than I’d like to admit. I want to appear sorted, together, like I am the answer to all the problems, like I have 10 creative ideas a day before breakfast and am confident in talking to random people and can convince them of why they should support the charity I’m working for. The trouble is, I’m not those things all the time and so my brain jumps to despair, I jump all too quickly to the usual cave marked Kath is rubbish, throw her in the bin with the rest of the people in this world who find it hard to cope with life.
As you can see, all too easily I jump to the opposite extreme, I jump into the pit of despair all too willingly. The truth, as with most things in life, lies somewhere in between these two extremes. I am pretty creative, I have come up with about 2 ideas of areas to work on in this job (which isn’t bad after 2 days sitting in the office reading through documents and trying to get a grip on a job that hasn’t had anyone doing it before me), I know that when I try and set up meetings with people and get on with the things I’m meant to be doing that I will be nervous, I can’t help that. I recognise that part of doing things that scare you means you give them a go until they become a bit easier. However, I usually skip those stages and get paralyzed by the fear of looking like an idiot. I’m sure there will be moments in this job when that will happen, just as I hope there will be moments when I get it right, when I explain really well what it is that we do as a charity and people go, wow, that’s great, I’d like to support that.
I forget that it’s ok to be nervous, it’s ok to not get things right all the time, it’s ok to fail and it’s ok for that not to be the end. My idiot personality would like to scream at me that if I can’t do these things straightaway, I’ll be a failure forever and should leave this to someone more competent than me. Ironically the charity I now work for is set up to support the vulnerable and the marginalised of Brighton and Hove, it’s set up for people who can’t cope very well with life and that’s why I think it’s brilliant. You’d think I’d get that there is space for vulnerable me in an organisation like that.
So. My fear is paralysing right now, I sense the tenrils of despair creeping around the corners of my brain that fear change and want to use that as an excuse to stop doing anything. I fear peoples scorn and looks of despair at my incompetence. What weapons do I have in my arsenal to fight these thoughts?
- There is a God. Sounds obvious but I need the obvious right now. He’s here, he’s been involved in me getting the job. He has the means to equip me to do it.
- He tells me not to be afraid because He is with me, and frankly, what can man do to me? Fear is the big killer of faith, passion, freedom and of anything happening. Fear is pretty good if there is a large bear coming towards you with hungry eyes but it’s not much use when you are staring at a telephone too frightened to talk to anyone because of the social awkwardness that might result.
- Social awkwardness is not the worst thing in the world. What people think of me isn’t what defines me or makes me have worth and value. No, really. There is a bigger picture and a bigger love.
- It’s ok to want to do my job well but that’s a learning process. It’s not going to happen overnight and there are going to be scary bits along the way. The fact that I think it’s stupid to be scared of the things I am will only paralyse me more. It’s ok to be scared, it’s what I do with it that matters.
- I’m not the only one. Please tell me I’m not the only one who lives with these fears, who is scared of lots of things, who worries that I lives very much within the walls of what I know I can do. Tell me that I’m not the only one. I’m pretty sure I’m not but I’d like someone else to join me in the vulnerable but hopeful corner of this world.
- It’s ok that I’m 33 and haven’t got life sorted yet. I constantly live with the fear that I’ll get found out, that I’ll have to go back to the start because I haven’t got life sorted at 33, other people seem to, sometimes people can’t believe I am as old as I am, tell me that’s because of my youthful complexion, that I married someone 5 years younger than me and not a horror at how immature I am. Tell me they are better at pretending than me.
Some of these things I believe today, some I’m still not so sure of. Number 1 is looking pretty sure right now, I don’t have this life thing together but I am a child of the Living and True God who made heaven and earth and who knows that I really don’t have life together or sorted but knows that the best way to deal with that is found in his arms of love and compassion. He’s all about the weak and foolish, the ones who just can’t cope. He’s all about people like me who need rescuing from their pride and foolishness. He’s not going anywhere.