I tell this story so often, I thought for sure I’d already posted it. But after searching my post history, I can’t find it. If I did and it’s redundant, please forgive me (and link me to the post, so I can close the loop). Just in case I haven’t, here it is:
When I was in my 20s, my husband and I had a turbulent few years. We married, knowing we would be expected to move soon for his job. We sold our home and took the plunge into the unknown state of Delaware. I started working as a portrait photographer, but once I found out there was a job opening at the local brewery, I wanted in. I hounded the brewer and the owners with calls every few days after having an interview. It took me three months, but I was finally offered the position.
The first day, though, I realized quickly I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I had absolutely no concept of what the work would entail. It was nothing like homebrewing, and involved more cleaning and general grunt work than I had anticipated. Still, my butt had to cash those large checks my stupid mouth had written. So I persisted, asked a ton of questions, and still managed to make mistakes. My new boss was irritated with me, and left me alone to fix the problems I created.
One of the people who worked at the brewery, doing general maintenance and other odd jobs, was named George. George worked four jobs in total, and was unflappable in his positivity and kindness. He was from Jamaica and his accented sometimes made it hard to understand him. One thing he told me, though, I’ve never forgotten.
I lamented to George that I was making so many mistakes, I was sure they’d fire me. I wanted to cry, but sucked back my tears in the hopes of being tough. George smiled at me.
“Make them all today.” He said.
“What?” I asked, confused.
“Your mistakes. Make them all today. Get them out of the way, then you start fresh tomorrow.” His tone was matter of fact, without judgement, not condescending at all. I think he knew how hard this job was, and how hard I’d worked to get in the door.
He was right though. I did get them out of the way, and the next day went better. That’s not to say I didn’t make many, many more mistakes along the way, but I began to soften myself to the harsh self-criticism I would inflict after each one. It was hard to let go, and still is, but when I can think clearly, I can hear George’s advice in my mind and it helps.
The truth is, people make mistakes, life goes on. This is just a job, and it truly wasn’t worth getting upset about.