The facts are fairly simple. I was driving home from work and upon slowing to give right of way to a bus at a fairly blind stretch discovered that sometimes road signs pass us by, sometimes we drive a little impatiently and sometimes we drive straight into the back of blue sports cars driven by redheaded columnists. The other driver admitted liability and I wasn’t seriously injured.
But I was injured. Aside from the fact that my much loved little Mazda is a write-off and I experienced the unsurprising shock that accompanies big black BMWs smashing into the back of you, I have what my GP has signed me off with a the rather vague sounding but nonetheless painful ‘muscular and soft tissue injury.’ I have now come to terms with the fact that I’m going to be making a personal injury claim when I loathe the whole idea of personal injury claims – prescriptions are expensive and while I can get a certain number of lifts to work, there are some expensive taxi journeys I simply don’t have the money for on my rota at work. In short, I can’t afford my value system at the moment and getting better and getting to work is going to cost money.
Oddly what changed my mind about making a claim were two absurdly incidental factors that I won’t be claiming compensation for. Firstly, I had my hair highlighted a short while back. A full head of highlights takes time and my back injury means I can’t sit still for prolonged periods and so I have dyed my hair back to its original colour for the first time in what is approaching three years (I wasn’t able to get to a shop selling much in the way of a variety of colours). My hair is a deeply personal thing but I’ve had to change it (or live with roots) through entirely external factors. Secondly, the boyfriend and I had our first date at Alton Towers. It was romantic, fun and the perfect date. A year later my birthday present was two consecutive days at theme parks. It was ridiculous and perfect. The biggest sign of why he is the guy for me is that rollercoasters and snogging were made a pact that every September we would spend a day on rides and eating bad food and just being each other’s best mate. Back injuries don’t really go with rollercoasters. I had already booked my Birthday off work but there’ll be no Thorpe Park for me. It’s silly but it reflects how the repercussions of an accident will affect my life (not that the boyfriend and I will break up if we don’t have our annual date but that I’m missing out on something really important to me).
All this was pretty distracting but it isn’t such a big deal. I’m confident I’ll have the issue resolved soon enough.
What I was left with however, was the realisation that certain old insecurities were raising their head.
I panicked. New in my job I was terrified what the implications of taking time off would be. In fact, I’d been in a mild state of panic since I started the job. Not that I ever let that get in the way of doing my job. No, I turned up each day, did the best job I could and then came home to let it wreck my personal life and wake me in the middle of the night.
But this week I realised, or rather acknowledged, something. I always do this! I think people are taking mad risky chances on me and then feel guilty about the idea of letting them down. Obviously this is insane as the people involved are usually smart and capable people with experience in their field. I was getting some files from the spare bedroom earlier and an article caught my eye. At the front of a magazine folder were a collection of papers, fronted by an analysis of peasant uprisings in Vietnam. Ok, so that’s random by anyone’s standards but bear with me.
The route to my Masters Degree was a little indirect and I always felt under qualified. Durham University generally required a first class degree in order to pursue postgraduate work. Because I received a double first on my undergraduate dissertation, I was admitted to do an MA by research. Had I wanted to do a taught MA then my 2.1 wouldn’t have been sufficient. The important thing to note however is that I never wanted to do a taught MA, I was all about the research (which was probably why my dissertation was brilliant but my exams distinctly average). I anguished throughout the process, feeling huge amounts of concern that I’d let down the supervisor who had taken me on (the same supervisor who , I hasten to add, oversaw my dissertation and has never been anything but supportive and encouraging).
Of course I passed the Masters and as I paused in front of the bookcase, I realised that while the process terrifies me, I have a need to push myself to the extreme. You see, I didn’t just do a Masters, I decided that the current options for evaluating my topic of choice were inadequate and so I created a new theory. Ironically given the nature of this column, I called it Confidence Theory.
The mad risky chances are clearly in my head and I feed them by being ambitious. I’m daunted by elements of my new job but I wasn’t hired by idiots. Furthermore, this new job is just like the MA. Applying standard marketing practises to the heritage industry would be like analysing Vietnam with statistics instead of confidence theory. You’ll get results but they won’t be the best possible results.
What I realised, as I stood staring at that discourse of revolutionary peasants (in my quiet-life middle class way) was that I wasn’t hired because I misrepresented my skills or abilities and therefore risked letting people down but because I accurately represented myself and the person I am is what my employers wanted. They know exactly what I have and haven’t done because I was completely honest on my CV. They saw someone creative and a little left of field and thought that the best way to promote their business was to place me as their marketing manager.
It’s a trust issue and not an obvious one. This isn’t about trusting myself not to fail but trusting that others sometimes see me more clearly than I see myself and if they have faith in me then I shouldn’t question that and instead just get on with things. Speaking of which, I have a marketing plan to write and y’all know it’s gonna be something special!