What went wrong?
It’s 2:37 AM, but sleep isn’t an option.
My brain’s been too busy re-living the train wreck of yesterday’s much-anticipated radio interview taping.
My travels had gone well. I’d gotten a good night of sleep. I’d felt confident but not cocky. The pre-taping banter between Kathi and our co-hosts had left me in stitches.
But once the actual interview began, I unraveled. Slowly at first, like a snagged sweater thread.
- I missed my cues.
- I stumbled over my words.
- My answers went in the wrong direction.
And then, as if someone had yanked the thread, I came apart at the seams.
- I couldn’t remember what was in the book I’d co-authored and had to ask to look at the host’s copy.
- Even after looking, I couldn’t think of a single thing to say in response to his question.
- When asked a different question—one the producer had emailed me in advance—I launched into a long rambling story that never actually arrived at a point.
I hope the interview went well today!
Kathi killed it. I was an #EpicFail.
Is that really true, or is this a post-event spiritual attack?
It’s really true.
I’m so sorry. Been there and it stinks/hurts.
I’m grateful that Amy didn’t try to cheer me up with, “I’m sure it went better than you feel!”
I so appreciate her sympathy and empathy.
But I’m still stymied:
What went wrong?
Failure Doesn’t Have to Be a Dead End
Failure can knock the knees out from under a Highly Sensitive Person.
Here’s how a few Sensitive and Strong Sisters put it:
- My biggest struggle has been the limitations created by this sensitivity. Until now, I thought it was my failure as a person that I’m not capable of working as hard (late to bed, early to rise) or focus on multiple things at a time.
- I’m overwhelmed by my fear of failure: failing at tasks, failing those I love, failing God and missing the mark.
- I don’t want to feel like a failure forever … and I certainly don’t want my daughter to see me that way.
Compounding the pain of the failure itself is our HSP tendency to rehearse and ruminate. Which can cause an initially small event to expand exponentially, both in terms of mental time and emotional impact.
I’ve already lost a perfectly good afternoon and evening to mourning my failure.
- I stuffed my feelings of failure via sugary (disappointment), salty (frustration), and crunchy (anger) snacks.
- I compared myself to all the non-failures on planet Earth by scrolling through social media.
- I escaped the reality of my failure by binge-watching my guilty pleasure on Netflix.
Now, I finally remember what I should have done first:
I need to pray-cess what went wrong.
Pray-cessing failure produces life-giving truths.
I know this from experience. So I grab my laptop, open a blank Word document and start typing
Truth #1: I still resist being an HSP
What on earth happened yesterday? Where did I go wrong?
I pause, remember, roll my eyes, wage an inner war, and force myself to continue.
I should have run to the restroom during the break.
I was at 5,000 feet above sea level but my body is used to living at at sea level, so I had been downing water bottles to cure an elevation headache.
But I didn’t want to be the only girl in the room saying, “So sorry! Can you all wait for me while I find the potty?”
I was afraid to appear “high maintenance.”
I cared about what others might think of me instead of caring for what my body actually needed.
I know better than to wait until I’m desperate. I was in pain the entire second half. Kathi said she could tell I was uncomfortable.
This was 100% preventable. Self-care is non-negotiable.
I pause to reflect further.
The night before, when I told an acquaintance that I needed to spend an hour preparing for the interview, she said, “No you don’t! You’re a professional. Just go be yourself, and you’ll be fine.”
So, I didn’t prepare. I watched a movie instead, doing my best to feel like a nonchalant professional.
Except I kept waking up during the night feeling unprepared.
Professionals don’t prepare, I kept reassuring myself.
I sigh again.
I know better than to alter what’s working for me. Even if every other professional on earth can successfully “wing it,” I can’t.
This was 100% preventable. Preparation is what makes me a professional.
I stifle a giggle while wiping a tear. I’ve made the most basic of rookie errors, which is simultaneously tragic and hilarious.
My fingers fly.
Clearly, I brought a ton of insecurity with me. How did I not notice it? I felt fine as I packed …
My fingers freeze, and then I type slowly as the truth dawns on me.
My suitcase was a dead give-away.
Normally, I go carry-on only, thanks to a meticulous packing list.
For this trip, I was feeling “lazy” so I grabbed my biggest suitcase and crammed it full. Along with my carry-on.
Only “lazy” is the wrong word. I was feeling indecisive.
Also known as … insecure
I hit “save,” close my laptop, and finally fall asleep.
Truth #2: I still have a lot to learn
I identify with the way Peter’s certainty dissolves into surprise. With his dismay at discovering how much he has yet to learn.
Over lunch, I tell Kathi that I’d like to do a SWOT analysis of my “disappointing performance.”
By the end of our conversation, I have a new to do list:
- join Toastmasters.
- take an improv class.
- practice extemporaneous speaking out loud at home.
All three of these are for the purpose of putting myself under the gun and …
- … learning my existing habits;
- … building on any good habits I may have;
- … breaking the bad habits I have;
- … discovering new strategies that will work for me
I rebel against all of this — none of it feels fair.
I should be good at this by now.
But I’m not. And I don’t want to waste time being bitter about it.
I just want to get better.
Truth #3: I can see how far I’ve come
Now, in retrospect, I’m thankful for what I didn’t do on Monday.
- I didn’t melt down out of fear that I’d totally let Kathi done.
- I didn’t obsess over how to “make it up” to her.
- I didn’t throw a pity party so she would reassure me that I wasn’t “that bad.”
In other words, I carried my own jam jar.
Of course, part of carrying my own jam jar was asking for help analyzing what went wrong and how I can prepare now to do better next time.
Which is a far cry from what I would have done five years ago. Back then, I would have cried and apologized for days because I’d “ruined everything.”
Yes, I wish I’d done a better job during the interview.
But I’m grateful that I’m handling failure better than I used to.
This, alone, is a success worth celebrating.
Why Failure is the First Step to Success
Pray-cessing failure produces life-giving truths.
Facing these truths may feel like piling failure on top of failure.
But it’s not.
You can face …
- … the truth about how much you resist being HSP …
- … the truth about how much you still have to learn …
- … the truth about how far you’ve come …
… because embracing the truth about your failure is the first step to success.