I have a confession to make: I fail a lot.

Like... an uncomfortable amount of failures. So many, that I often question my qualifications as a fully functional adult human being (and don't even get me started on that engineering degree my university surely gave me by accident).

I've always tried to believe that failure is evidence of growth (i.e. if it doesn't hurt, you're not learning), but I've never been great at externalizing that mindset. I tend to keep the evidence of my failures tucked deep down in the bowels of my psyche (which is probably why I get sick to my stomach whenever I make a mistake in public).

It's taken nearly all my life to really recognize this fact, but my tolerance for screwing up is inversely proportional to how visible said screw up is, regardless of its size.

Huge mistake only I know about and can learn from and fix? No sweat.

Tiny mistake that everyone I know and love witnesses? Excuse me while I go vomit for 45 minutes and then cry myself to sleep.

It probably has something to do with shame, which seems to be a feeling I am both highly prone to and irrationally afraid of.

This is a terrible way to live.

So, instead of doing what I always do and simply try to make fewer mistakes (spoiler alert: it doesn't work), I've decided to start intentionally documenting more of my failures. Some of them will be big (like the time I failed a polygraph on the way to getting a security clearance... three times), but most others will be small (like the time I sent a heartfelt text message intended for my wife to my boss).

However much I end up writing on the subject, I want to say that it isn't intended to be a series of "my mistakes actually make me look good" posts. LinkedIn has enough people spewing that kind of hot air. The goal here isn't to make myself look good (or bad). It's to learn how to live more comfortably with the discomfort of thinking I look like an idiot.

To inoculate myself against my (very unhealthy) negative psychological and physical reactions to the (very human) feeling of shame and embarrassment.


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This is post 050 of #100DaysToOffload