As I was driving in to work one morning last week, I was thinking back over an event that happened recently. It was a difficult and rather painful event and I was treated disrespectfully; my overall contribution to the company overlooked and devalued because I made a mistake. Yes, I admit I could have done a better job communicating. I sent an e-mail without reading it through a second time because I was in a rush. What I said was O.K., but not as smooth and careful as it should have been and the recipient decided to make it an issue…with my boss…rather than coming to me to work it out. In spite of my less than stellar communication, I don’t think I had done something so horrid that I deserved to be screamed at; my boss was shaking with anger at my “poor choice” of words…something that he wouldn’t have even twinged over if it involved someone else. My assistant, who sits at a desk outside my office, left because she couldn’t stand to listen to his yelling. Just hearing his loud, raised voice was offensive to her. And as I drove to work that morning, I thought to myself, “You’re going to have to be especially careful in everything you do and say because you are nobody.”
It’s the story of my life. I’m a nobody. Therefore, I have to be extra-careful. I have to do more. I have to perform without flaw.
He assumed the worst of me. That hurt.
You see, other people can make mistakes. Even big ones…and they still have worth. They can be imperfect. Others can do their best and still be valued if they make a small error (or even a large one) or aren’t quiet able to get everything done. But I can’t. I have to perform perfectly (which I’ve yet to master). I have to over-excel because I’m nobody and nothing and nothing I do is valued. Getting it right, doing it perfectly, means I will be tolerated, though not appreciated. It means I will be allowed to remain, though not valued. I will always be overlooked, under-rewarded and under-appreciated. What I have to offer is better than nothing, but not much.
Why it always happens this way, I don’t understand. I only know that it always happens this way.
Is it because I can’t find any value in myself? Is it because I believe I’m worthless, therefore I’m treated that way?
I wish I had answers. All I have is a deep hurt over never coming out on top. At always having to work three times as hard for the little I receive while others often have so much handed to them. At always having to grovel and smile and perform, perform, perform, while others can be flawed and still be highly esteemed. But I never have any worth unless I perform and excel. One small mistake and I’m nothing. Everything good I’ve done prior to that mistake is wiped out.
I’m so tired of performing. I’m running out of steam. What happens when I can’t perform any longer? When I lose all semblance of normalcy? When I can no longer function at a level that justifies my existence?
I feel like I have an iceberg of terror in my chest. It painfully freezes my soul. I’m so afraid. So weary. So alone. So tired of being nobody.