If I were to sum up my fears in one phrase, it’s simply this: the fear of f***ing up.
It’s the burden of every type-A perfectionist. The belief that you can do everything The Right Way. That everything has a single, most efficient way. Every task can be done The Best. Whether it’s starting a project, raising a child, commuting to work, cleaning, writing a book… I’ve always believed I could find the best way to do it.
Which is to say, doing it without f***ing it up.
Oh let’s just stop with the asterix trio, shall we?
The fear of fucking up is so powerful, I think I have transferred it to at least one of my children. And in doing this, have had to confront my own beliefs on learning and growing.
This particular child is cursed with the apparent scholastic death sentence of “does not take risks in learning”. The first time I heard this, I truly did not understand – weren’t we trying to wrestle this kid into line? Make him behave and follow the rules? How can risk be apart of playing by the rules?
What I soon learned was that asking stupid questions, questioning yourself and others around you, seeking information in many different forms, putting your ignorance out there as its own entity to be poked and prodded and reformed – all of that was risk taking. Asking questions that are uncomfortable and reveal that You Don’t Know It All is a risk!
Gradually I began taking risks and I realized there no one popped out of the shadows to laugh “hahaha! You should TOTALLY KNOW THAT ALREADY, dumbass!”
Ok, sometimes they did – but I soon left those people behind. Because the risk, and the journey of learning was worth it.
I changed careers and am now in one where query, learning, risk-taking and assessment (always assess, never assume!) are valued.
And still, I hold on to that historical fear of fucking up.
Some days I still think “I could have driven a more efficient route, I could have been quicker at that task, I should have KNOWN what they were thinking” … but I’m a lot more forgiving of myself now, because it’s ok to learn and not be perfect all the time.
Today my fear is manifesting in a whole new way: The Bathroom Reno Project.
I moved into this house almost 6 years ago and it had never been renovated. Built in 1966 it’s got its quirks – original stove, oven, fridge – psychedelic wallpaper in one bathroom, ancient tile in another. But the location is perfect and the neighbourhood is lovely.
But the upstairs bathroom has to be renovated. As of a month ago, the hot water tap in the bathtub runs CONSTANTLY. So much so now that there is humidity in the bathroom all the time, dripping down the window and SPENDING MY MONEY ON THE UTILITY BILL!
To make a long story short, it’s not worth just fixing the tap. There are other issues that might as well be fixed at the same time (see: neurotic about being efficient!) including a known leak, a shower that doesn’t work, a crappy 50 year old window, tiles that fell off, and no exhaust vent.
It’s in dire need of a reno.
But oh boy, I don’t want to fuck this up.
I don’t want to be that person that starts a reno, gets stuck, causes a problem and then 6 years later is on an HGTV show saying something like “I always meant to fix it…”
(Wait, I really DO want to be on an HGTV show – if only they came to Calgary instead of staying in Vancouver and Toronto!!)
But I know other people who can do this… I should be able to do this … right??
– Get to know the guys at Lowes
– remember to shut the water or electricity off and not kill myself or flood the place
– hire someone for the window
– consult smarty-pants friends
– Pinterest the crap out of bathroom reno ideas
I can do this, right?
All I have to do is not fuck up.