Rookiee Mistake

I think I must have seen this match about 20 times.

One of the wrestlers definitely knows what he’s doing. He’s giving the other directions, doing a great job of guiding him through some of the more complicated moves. And then there’s me. The other guy. The guy who just ate a suplex for the first time. The guy who’s making all the mistakes, and whose shorts are probably a bit too tight. Although let’s be fair, it’s only a practice match, and it’s the first time I actually put some of the moves I’ve learned together. Still, even with that in mind, the mistakes are glaring, and I can’t stop seeing them. It’s something I’ve always done; I don’t really give myself a chance, I want to get it perfectly right the first time. That’s held me back from so much.

Up until very recently, most of the choices I made professionally were based on this idea: I’ve got to get it right the first time. It’s what made me choose the wrong college degree, and what made me choose the wrong university degree twice. It led me to a safe job that I stayed in way past the expiration date. I never allowed myself to make mistakes. And on the rare occasion that I did, I was more focused on what people thought of my mistakes, rather than what they could have taught me. It’s a weird mental bug that, best case scenario, makes you choose the safe option. Worst case scenario, it completely paralyzes you. It took a long time, and a lot of influential people, for me to see there was an alternative. It wasn’t until I actually started networking, until I started saying “yes” more often, that I saw people who proved me wrong. I met people whom I found to be incredibly successful; they had their own businesses and were living well, which is what I thought I wanted. While I attached myself to them, trying to learn the most that I could, I saw them make mistakes. I even saw things happen that were beyond their control, which could have floored most people. They just picked themselves up, dusted off and kept going. It took several months of it happening before I learned the real lesson. Success doesn’t mean getting it right every time. It means getting it wrong the right way. How many times did I hear that in school? “Learn from your mistakes”. I should probably mention that I rarely actually reworked a rough draft before handing it in.

It was about this time last year that things started to shift. It’d been three months since I quit my safe job, and I was still waiting for a startup to hire me. They’d asked me, point blank, how much I wanted yearly. “50k” was what came to mind when trying to think of a large figure (I’d made maaaybe 18k the previous year). I was getting an “executive” position as a content manager. I had no idea what that was, but I was ready to learn whatever it took for the money. Because they decided I was worth 50k. Now it was three months later, and I’d yet to be hired (spoiler alert, it’s now a year later and I’m as close to getting hired by them as I was then). I was pretty comfortable, since I’d saved up quite a bit from my safe job. I wasn’t aware of how many mistakes I’d make that year, how badly things would get shaken up. Looking back at it now, I know it all had to happen so I’d be on friendlier terms with them and the mistakes to come. The irony was, even if it was a big “risk” (as my brain kept telling me when I tried to explain the decision to my coworkers), it was nowhere near the risks I’d take over the next year.

So now I’m watching this match for the 21st time, and I see all the mistakes. But all I feel is certainty; now I know what I’m working on next week.