When I was little, I took an intelligence test and scored very high. But I still managed to screw everything up.
It started when I threw off my performance at school so that everyone would stop identifying me solely by my grades. It kept going when I had my own weird methods of doing things that didn’t align with everyone else’s.
When dealing with any sort of exact system of operation, I never managed to comply. If I ever had smaller deadlines to fulfill in order to accomplish a larger goal, I’d fail at completing nearly every single one of the small tasks. If I ever had a teacher who required first drafts before handing in a final draft, I was guaranteed to turn it in late, because I was always correcting while I wrote and never wanted to hand in a rough draft. In doing so, I managed to screw up my grades; one college english teacher even failed me for it. And if I was ever told to approach my work in a certain way, I’d just get frustrated and confused if it didn’t make logical sense to me, and either do it my own way anyway or fail to do it altogether. Either way, I would screw it all up.
In 9th grade, I was diagnosed with ADD. I could never properly focus for more than 5 minutes. After those 5 minutes were up, my brain would glaze over; I’d be aching to do something else. This, of course, led to me screwing up continuously.
At home I was told to stop screwing up; that my brain was broken. But I didn’t know how to fix it. I didn’t know how to control my mind from going in 20 different directions. I didn’t know how 6 songs could manage to be in my head at the same time, all while thinking about 4 different projects I could be doing instead of my homework. All I knew was that it made me screw up.
I took medication for the ADD in 11th and 12th grade. It helped me pay attention in class, and I took great notes. But once class was over, the medicine wore off, and I was still a total lazy bones when it came to my homework and studying. Thus, my grades did not improve, and no one believed that the medicine was helping me. I was just screwing up my own life. It took a depression and a 2.3 GPA in my first year of college to get permission to go back on my medication. I screwed up with it, and screwed up more without it. I had nothing to lose. I was always a screw-up in the end anyway.
All of this culminated in a fear of responsibility. I always assumed that I was going to screw everything up. The less people that depended on my actions, the better. For example, I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 20 years old because for nearly 5 years, I was too afraid to get in the car; I couldn’t risk damaging the car or the lives of those in it. When I was 16, I began to fear that I was destined to get divorced, because I couldn’t fathom getting married to someone without screwing it all up.
However, I now have a wonderful husband who is very supportive and doesn’t hold it against me if I make a mistake. He and I share similar goals, dreams, and even fears, and get through every day together. We are responsible for each other, but I strongly believe that we both can take care of each other without screwing it all up.
After working at a fantastic company for 3 consecutive summers (and one autumn), I realized that I don’t always screw up. One of my bosses once made an offhand comment about how my work is always very thorough, which I had never really thought about. When in an environment where I was allowed to do something in any way that suited me so long as it got done, I was able to do okay for myself.
I still am very hesitant about taking on larger roles. When reading job descriptions, I want to make sure I meet every single qualification, lest I screw up. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I want to stop screwing up. But I have been taught to focus on my strengths. That I even have strengths at all encourages me to approach life in a different way. That if I make mistakes, I can fix them. Because I am a quick learner, and I can still do all the things I need to do despite my insecurities.