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One Cobble at a Time

Fear, competence, and being grown-up

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

Fear, competence, and being grown-up

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responsible woman

When I first saw the letter inside its envelope, I thought it was junk mail. I almost didn’t open it. When I read the letter, I had a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach and a flash of fear that our business would be destroyed by a lawsuit. Reason quickly won out and I was able to much more rationally see that the request from Covey that we stop using their trademarked phrase in the comic was a request with which we could easily comply. We made our decision and are happy with the result. The decision we made isn’t what I want to discuss here. You see, this is not the first time that I’ve received a piece of news and been instantly terrified that our business is going to fall apart. It isn’t the fifth or tenth or twentieth time either. I can’t tell what the number on this event is, because it happens so often. I’ve come to regard that momentary sick sensation as a normal part of running our own business. I suspect that it is also a result of our usual strategy of diving in and learning as we go.

I spent quite a long time feeling like a fraud. I used to be afraid that I’d mishandled the accounting and the IRS would swoop in to take away everything. I feared that the authors, artists, and business partners would see through our facade of competence. I worried that teachers or other parents would see clearly all my failings as a parent. I feared each of these things a lot, but over the years they didn’t happen and the fears faded. I started to believe that we might actually have some of the competence that we presented to the world.

I know lots of adults who say that they don’t feel like grown-ups. I feel that too sometimes. There are days when I look around and wonder how on earth I ended up with four kids, a business, and a house. Most of the time I am very comfortable with my grown-up status. I consistently see myself getting necessary things done even though I don’t want to do them. In our house this functions as the definition of a grown-up. I wish I could confer upon others the feeling of being grown up. But then I remember the quote from Bujold which paraphrases to: “Being grown-up is not a prize they give you for being a good child. It is something you have to take for yourself.”

So I wonder, how I can take my self-awarded grown-up status and my growing belief in my own competence and apply it so that I don’t have to go through those moments of believing that everything is going to fall apart because I am faced with a single adverse event. The losing my stomach feeling of roller coasters is not something I enjoy encountering in my kitchen during the middle of my work day.

Mirrored from onecobble.com.

  • I started to believe that we might actually have some of the competence that we presented to the world.

    I am sure this is true!

    However, I'm also pretty sure that a whole lot of the people who look so competent and together are really just winging it, too. :)
    • I think the long haul makes pretty clear whether someone really is competent or just maintaining a facade. The fact that we're still at this full time after 6 years is very reassuring.
  • Is it possible that it might be clinical anxiety? I don't know if that's helpful, but thought I'd throw it out there. I do know the sick feeling you describe, as a small business woman myself. But it happens quite rarely. I do think learning to have faith is a part of being your own boss. (And being a grown up. LOL.)
    • Clinical anxiety is highly likely. I've had full blown anxiety attacks complete with heart palpitations, blurred vision, and constricted breathing. That was several years ago. I learned to manage with behavioral adjustments and carefully constructed patterns of thought and faith. The fear does not prevent me from accomplishing things which need done, so I don't consider it a disorder right now. It's just a thing on the list of Stuff I Deal With.
  • "our facade of competence"

    A carefully crafted facade, which hide your super-mega-UBER competence...

    It is wise that you lull them into a false sense of security before you pounce upon them and commit acts of commerce upon them. :)

    As for the letter and the decision, I still think there was a better way, but you have made your decision and like a dutiful fanboy, I shall have to quietly, privately rage while continuing to enjoy your comic.

    Besides, I own copies that have the real title of that bit of work, so I don't care. :)

    But my next books, I would like to pay extra to have Howard hand-write the correct label. If I could.

    Pretty please?

    Oh God. I just realized... If you refuse, I'm going to have to re-buy the prior 6 books to have a running, proper continuity...

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I shouldn't have said that out loud, because now you'll refuse my request... Son of a...
  • Amusing & Semi-Related

    (Anonymous)
    Allie Brosh's struggle with 'being a grown-up'. I thought it was pretty funny, her MS Paint drawings are spectacular. I hope the quasi-censored language is not overly offensive.

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html

    • Re: Amusing & Semi-Related

      Allie writes some amazingly clever stuff. Thanks for the link. And yes, I've gone through that spiral many times.

      The trick I learned was to make minor life adjustments rather than major overhauls.
  • No matter how grown-up or competent a small business owner may be, a demanding letter from a corporate lawyer will always trigger the "dear god, I can't afford lawyers to deal with this" reflex. Small businesses may still be able to handle some problems with a throw-money-at-it approach, but legal issues are certainly not among them.

    Besides, I like the new name. Its consonance is pleasing.
    • I am so sorry you had to go through this and that it is such a normal part of adulthood. I think I try to shield my kids a little from the reality that it isn't easier as an adult, but that you get used to it.

      Good luck! And what a good decision you made. I like so much that you dealt with it humbly.
      • Thanks.

        I try to shield my kids too. I think if they knew how much harder life can get, they would just give up.
    • I'm glad you like the new name. We're quite pleased with it as well.
  • That is one of my favorite Bujold quotes!
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