This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how I let people down…or rather the ways in which “I think” I let people down.
So, obviously in an ideal world, we’d never let anyone down, we’d be able to do every job, go to every event and everyone would go around with big smiles on their faces…reality is somewhat different.
I often get asked to go to something that I either can’t go to because 1. I’ve double booked ( need to keep a diary) 2. It’s not really my thing 3. Shockingly (and rarely I might add) I’m just too tired.
When this used to happen, particularly to younger Ali, for fear of letting people down I’d do either do one of two things. Option one was to force myself to go. Now this was partly because when I was younger, I definitely did suffer a lot more from FOMO and was thus paranoid by refusing any invitation, however awkward it was or much I didn’t want to attend, that I’d be missing out on some amazing life opportunity. Sadly this mainly resulted in me going on a lot of bad dates and having tired nights out down smelly clubs.
Alternatively, when the invitation was even too much for even me to take, I went with option two. This was where I’d make up some elaborate excuse on why I couldn’t attend. Now, despite having a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, my ability to lie is pretty poor. So, option two would normally end about as well as option one as the person I was “letting down” would be pretty sure I was lying, I’d feel bad about it and it would end up being just a whole mess of guilt.
This fear of letting people down wasn’t only a problem in my personal life but my work life too. More often than not, like any good employee, if I was asked to do something either by a boss or coworker my first reaction would be to say yes. And while this is great, like I said before this wasn’t always possible so I’d either end up doing work not as well as I should, over promising and under delivering and just generally stressing myself out.
It’s only now, in my wise old 30s, that I’ve finally started to realise that the best way not to let people down, both in your personal and work life is to be honest. Okay so maybe not be as blunt to say look I can’t be bothered to go out with you or I can’t do that job for you. But now if I get invited on a night out when I’d prefer to stay in because I’ve had a stressy week I just say it. And at work, if I get asked to do something but I don’t have the time to get it done that second but I tell them what I can do, people have so much respect for you.
It works both ways too because when I start to beat myself up about letting people down, I think to myself how would
I feel if the shoe was on the other foot and I know I would hate it if I felt a friend or coworker was stressing out trying to make themselves do something for me just so they didn’t “let me down.”
So the moral of the story? Let yourself off and you’ll be less likely to let people down.