I’ve always viewed asking questions to be a sign of weakness. If I have to ask how to do something, it means I’m not perfect, and god forbid anyone catch on to the fact that I’m flawed.
And for a long time, that worked for me. Sort of. I mean, I took feedback and learned from that, and that was cool and all. My high school English teacher told my mom once that she never had to give me the same feedback on my writing twice, that I always learned from my mistakes.
Of course I did. Mistakes were a blow to my pride, and the only way to keep my ego intact was to eliminate all possibility of making a mistake.
Perhaps this is why I didn’t study much in school. If I studied and still failed, that would mean I’m not smart enough or good enough or enough period. By watching Lord of the Rings instead of studying, I had an excuse to fail – it wasn’t that I was dumb, it was just that I didn’t study enough. (Which in and of itself is proof of how dumb I truly was…er…am.)
This mindset carried over into my work life. In order to prove that I’m capable, I usually only ask a question of my boss or my colleagues as an absolute last resort. (To clarify, I’m talking about the kind of question that could out me as a complete fraud who has no idea what she’s doing on any given day.)
Again, that’s worked for me. Sort of. I’ve learned and grown and done what I believed at times was impossible.
But it’s also caused a lot of unneeded stress. Aside from the stress of having to protect my secret identity as Imperfect Girl, my need to never be wrong makes me assume that I’m almost always wrong. And I can never ask anyone if I’m on the right track, because then they’d know I have no idea what I’m doing.
And so it goes.
Lately, I’ve been stressed in my job, worried that I’m not cutting it, worried that I never will be good at what I do, wondering if I should cut my losses before my boss decides that he made a mistake in hiring me.
So today, I did the unthinkable.
After a bit of internal debate – should I or shouldn’t I? – I shared some of my concerns with the editor who’s been giving me some guidance (and I was quite candid, more candid than even I thought I would be), and he reassured me that I’m doing a good job and that I’ll get there.
I could have gone on worrying. I could have even quit my job, never knowing that I’m doing just fine.
All because I was too afraid to ask.
What an ass.