Sarah and I thought we would dedicate this week to blunders. Yeah, there are so many it's challenging to cram them all into a week. Maybe in the future we can give the topic it's due and spend a year recounting all of our miserable mistakes, but for now, let's give it a week and then move on.
Sarah and I try to embrace failure as best we can. We start each day saying aloud, NOTHING TO LOSE. Failure is a part of success, so let's go ahead and let it be that. Hello failure, so very nice to see you again. Out of all the business blunders, poor life choices and general goof ups I've made, there is one that is really taking center stage this week. As I work on putting the professional stamp on my consulting business (more to come on this later), my mind has been wandering back to the beginning of my career as a psychotherapist.
When I started my Master's program, I had been a working artist in SF for about 8 years. I was interested in psychology, but had never read studies, been to a case presentation, or really had a clear idea of who Freud was. I was about to embark on a whole new voyage and one where I did not speak the language. I was totally scared, and rightly so. Part of what is so great about the Clinical Psych program at San Francisco State is that they throw you in to swim with the sharks right away. Perfect for me, I love that, I was off to a good start. Now, I had worked with people one on one before, part of my work as artist in residence at Mount Zion Cancer Center was working with patients one on one at the bedside, but sitting across from someone as a therapist was totally new to me. Unlike most programs, State educates you while you work. Instead of taking classes for years before sitting across from a patient, they have you doing both at the same time. Immediately. No pressure. This is such an effective learning method mostly because the pressure is on so fast and furiously. You have a case load and patients depending upon you for help. Trust me, you would take your studies VERY seriously if this were the case. Eeeeek. Two weeks in to starting school you are given a case load. So here I am trying to learn a new language, getting to know my cohort of 8 which I would have to get along with for the next two years, and adjusting to spending every waking moment reading and writing as apposed to drawing and painting. In short, I was kind of a hot mess.
Of course I messed up big time with my very first client. Turns out there was a rule that was part of the clinic's guidelines that I totally missed. I imparted incorrect information to my client and it stirred up some serious dust. I can still remember sitting in class with the director who totally called me out on it in front of my new cohort, right as my phone started ringing because I had forgotten to turn it off. Really? You have to ring right now?! I was totally mortified and just wanted to slide under the table and die. I went home and cried about it, a lot. Looking back now it seems so silly. Why would I assume that I would not make a mistake like that? I did not give myself an inch of room for error there. Sigh. Hindsight is 20/20 though, right? At the time, the only thing that got me back into the building for my next class, was a fellow cohort member who looked at me and said, "f@$k it and move on." Yes we are still friends and I adore him to this day.
What I learned from this mistake and the many more that have followed is that failure is survivable. Yes, it sucks, can be embarrassing, and feel life threatening, but it's survivable. We continue to live and breath. Life keeps going and time keeps moving no matter what. It is bigger than us and much more powerful than our little itty bitty mistake, no matter how huge and all encompassing we think it is. Failure grabs our attention, sometimes much more so than success. Listen, pay attention, learn, then f@$k it and move on. You will survive, this I'm nearly certain.
What's your most memorable blunder?