F***ing Up

March 11, 2020 Level Up Coaching 0 Comments

You guys know I’m a nurse, right? I’ve seen some things.

I was 100% terrified of needles for most of my life. When I received mandatory vaccines as a child they had to tie my arms down because I lost my shit. I was awful. I’m talking absolute total meltdown: shrieking, screaming, flailing, sobbing, this kid needs a sedative kind of crazy. 

Looking back, my heart goes out to the nurses that had to deal with me. Ick.

Despite my deeply rooted and irrational fear of blood and needles, I found myself incredibly fascinated by the medical field. I wanted to go into the medical field while simultaneously fearing everything about it. I went to college for forensic anthropology. Studying bones and decomposed bodies was less frightening because I couldn’t hurt them, they were already dead. I worked as a receptionist in a clinic. I was flirting with the medical field, but never committing.

Finally a nurse co-worker called me out. She wanted to know why I wasn’t going to school to be a nurse or a doctor. I admitted my secret. “Oh, we can fix that.” Words that would irrevocably changed my life.

I started observing patient procedures, with permission, of course. I’d watch until I felt like I was either going to vomit or faint. The amount of time I could tolerate being in the room increased gradually. I started setting up for the nurses. I knew the process by heart. I could watch the entire time without issue, and even help trouble-shoot if there was a complication.

One particularly brisk morning, a nurse hovered over me with a smile. “Ready?” She sat down before me and opened her arm onto the table. “Draw me.” I think I may have disassociated. The next thing I knew a few other nurses had gathered around, and I was holding the needle like:

I took a deep breath, leaned in, and felt the needle hit a hard surface. I realized I had closed my eyes. I opened them and everyone started laughing. I had 100% missed her ENTIRE arm and stuck the needle into the table. Epic failure. I didn’t just miss the vein; I missed the whole dang body part. True story.

Now, years later, I am one of the best phlebotomists around. I am the nurse all of the hard sticks are sent to. I train other medical professionals to draw blood. I clean, pack, and dress wounds, drain cysts, remove sutures, and am completely unshakable when someone is bleeding all over the office. I don’t just tolerate it. I love it.

How did I get here?

Honestly, I kept f***ing up until I got here.

After that first attempt at drawing blood, there were many more attempts that followed. I SUCKED. I was terrible at phlebotomy. My hands shook like I drank 12 pots of coffee. I broke into a sweat. I was slow and clunky. I missed veins. I f***ed up 20, 30, 50, 100s of draws. There were successes, too. Other nurses would observe and then trouble-shoot with me, offer advice, and explain where I could try to improve. Not once did anyone ever suggest I should consider giving up.

I got comfortable with failure. I embraced the fail. It stopped meaning there was something wrong. I looked forward to failing. I realized that every time I failed, I wasn’t going backward, I was actually going forward. Each failure moved me in a direction because I was learning, improving, and practicing. I expected to fail. When I failed, I moved forward and up, toward my goal of becoming a nurse. If I failed, it meant I was failing upward. 

Failure that moves us toward our goal is the most useful action we can take.

So, when I tell you I f***ed up to get to where I am today, I mean I failed up until I hit my goal. 

How many of us dream of doing something, anything, and then the first chance we get to try it out, crash face first? How many of us make that mean we can’t do it? That we should stop, and go back to the things we already know how to do well?

Imagine what you would be willing to try if you not only expected to fail, but wanted to fail, because you knew it’s exactly what is supposed to happen? What if you leaned into failure? How much joy would it bring to watch yourself rise a little more after each failure?

Confidence doesn’t come from being “good” at something. Confidence is created when we lose our fear of failing.

The discomfort of failure doesn’t scare me.

Life, my lovelies, is a constant navigation from one set of training wheels to the next. None of us knows what the heck we’re doing most of the time. The key is examining each failure and using it to modify your next attempt. There is no value in failure if you aren’t open to understanding what didn’t work, and why, but that doesn’t include beating yourself up for it. 

F up, my friends. F IT UP.

F***ing Up was last modified: October 4th, 2020 by Level Up Coaching

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