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February 15, 2011
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I am so so so so so hard on myself when I’m learning new skills.  I need to work on this but I’m not exactly sure where to start.

So today I started a new job at my job.  I knew going into it that there would be a steep learning curve, but they wanted me to do it anyway and I know it will be great experience in the long run.  Anyway, real training started today and basically ended with me in a panic attack and much crying after I got home.

I’m going to go ahead and blame this on homeschooling, but during my formative years I didn’t have many people judging me in a formal setting.  When I did start school I realized I hated “getting in trouble” which to me meant any criticism, so I learned to study up before class, get near perfect grades, ingratiate myself to teachers, etc, etc.  I can describe in pretty vivid detail the times I’ve actually been criticized by an authority figure in my life–they are few and far between that’s for sure.

Now I’m not in trouble at my job (at least as far as I know!), but I do feel like I’m under-prepared.  It’s not really the sort of thing where I can sit with a book and study up before I show up for work that day, because each situation is so unique (though I am also hitting the books).  What really needs to happen is me feeling more confident so that I’m not afraid to say what I actually know, while at the same time being receptive to criticism without wanting to cry and feeling like poop about myself (losing all confidence).  I need to find my voice.  I feel like I found that with midwifery, but I did go though a similar learning curve at the beginning where I wanted to know more and be better at my job than I initially was.  It sucks, but that’s the way it is with new things, right?

Any tips for how to make these transition periods easier?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. melissa Chordas permalink
    February 15, 2011 7:10 am

    I’m in the same boat as you. maybe it is our homeschooling. 🙂 Cant offer advice really, trying to work through it myself. But at least we know we have each other’s backs (no one can really relate to our crazy and memorable homeschooling days)…

  2. Tom permalink
    February 15, 2011 10:36 am

    Fake it ’til ya make it. We all do.

  3. Madeleine permalink
    February 15, 2011 11:57 am

    I rarely got in trouble in school, or at home growing up, and I have a major problem being criticized by authority figures. When something goes wrong at work [which is rare] and I talk to my boss, I can feel myself tearing up. I don’t know why, because I’m generally a pretty tough cookie.

  4. February 15, 2011 2:02 pm

    Try not to take the comments that are made as criticism or personal attacks. Try looking at them as helpful advice on how to succeed. Positive thoughts bring about positive actions! You’ll make it. You did last time, right?

  5. Dad permalink
    February 15, 2011 3:19 pm

    Sorry, Katie. It’s too late for me to turn hard-ass on you so that you’ll go out into the world with a calloused skin. No do-overs on those formative years.

    So, looking forward: Take Tom’s sage advice, and know that the “we all do” part is pretty true.

  6. February 15, 2011 4:13 pm

    The “I Have Confidence” song works in all types of situations. I feel the same way. When I get criticized at all I find myself in incredibly professional situations saying “Do not cry. Do not cry.” Putting on my big girl work outfits doesn’t always make me a big girl. You can do it, and even if you cry a little, I know you’ll earn everyone’s respect.

  7. Morgan permalink
    February 15, 2011 6:43 pm

    I get tunnel vision and freeze like a deer in headlights when confronted by authority figure or when receiving criticism of any kind.

    No one was born with this knowledge; everyone who is teaching you had to go through the same experiences, make the same mistakes, and figure out how to cope with the same stress.

    Have you practiced pranayama at all? There are a variety of grounding breathing exercises I use before I get into those stressful situations:

    *Shitali Pranayama: Taco your tongue (or, if unable, rest it lightly on your lower lip) and inhale for 5-10 counts, exhale for 5-10 counts. (This is a also great cooling breath after a good workout.)

    *Three part breath (Dirga Pranayama): inhale and exhale completely. Inhale through your nose a third of the way into your belly; pause. Inhale 2/3 into your solar plexus; pause. Inhale fully to the top of your lungs and into the back of your heart; hold 3-8 counts (or however long is comfortable so you don’t feel panicky and/or whoosh all your breath out on the exhale). Exhale with control; at the bottom of the exhale, engage your abs and draw your navel to your spine to push out that last little bit of breath. Hold for 3-8 counts (or however long is comfortable so you don’t feel any panic or the need to gasp for breath). Repeat as long as you’d like.

    Practicing one of these for even three breaths before entering a stressful situation, in your car before you go into work, or at the very beginning of your day, can be incredibly beneficial to mind and spirit.

    There are a whole bunch of other ones, but those are my favorites for when I need to not freak out.

    I’ll slink back into my hippie wonderland now.

  8. Ali permalink
    February 15, 2011 6:59 pm

    I’ve found some inspiration reading this blog: (although some of her writing relates to transitions around weddings, her advice can be applied in many different situations)

  9. February 16, 2011 12:19 am

    I totally blame my homeschooling for all my social inadequacies. I’ve found, especially with new jobs, or a new tool, or a new boss, that it’s important to remember there’s a learning curve … for everything. Especially new situations. Best of luck on the new job! I re-discovered your blog recently, after a year-long hiatus from my old reader 🙂

  10. aubrey lambert permalink
    February 19, 2011 9:04 pm

    Katie, as a fellow home schooler i totally understand how you feel! I have the same issues. Because in your formative years if you did make a mistake YOU corrected it, if you didn’t understand you just studied or worked at it until you did. There was no one there to really critique you but yourself. You had control, you were always both the teacher and student.

    You know everyone at WIC is completely supportive of you. I’m so impressed that you are taking on such a challenge. We all know you’re incredibly talented! Now is the time to take risks and make those mistakes while you have a support system, a safety net to help you learn as you go. Be patient and kind to yourself 🙂

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