I Am Surely Getting Fired

By: Faith Pearce

(5 min read)

This is a theme I have been thinking a lot about recently, with starting a blog, and a book coming out soon – then comes that time of year when we have annual appraisals. I don’t know if you can relate but being in the spotlight triggers a lot of fear for me.

You’d think that after 20 years of working in an office environment, appraisals would have become more normal, but I have to say this professional review process is one of the things that put the fear of God into me. This year feels heavier, but maybe that is because I have the spotlight on me from several different directions. Go, Faith, Go! There are so many lanes to get nervous about which one do I want to use my superpower of hyper-critical thinking on? Hmm. How about all of them?!

Let’s try to break them down individually. But wait – in true Faith fashion, I am collectively stressed out about them all. I’ve had to take a step back and ask myself what is it I am scared of? Sure, there is the risk of negative feedback, but why does it feel like every single time I step out of my comfort zone, I feel like the whole world is going to come crashing down? Why, in moments of strife, does my mind suppress all the growth I have made, the positive traits I possess or the continued actions I have taken to improve my life? Why do I always feel like I could do better?

I take anxiety to a whole new level. As an example, every year, before my performance review, I freak out. It shouldn’t be a shock. It comes EVERY YEAR. And every year, I create a story in my head. “I am surely getting fired!” This is NOT like a fleeting thought. This is like a movie playing over and over in my head. It is real. 

Here are several minutes, I mean hours, I mean days of my spinning movie. I am an introvert. I hate being in the spotlight. I will be asked my opinion, in real-time, as to my feelings on these measurable objectives. REAL-TIME OPINIONS AND FEELINGS. I will need to speak out loud. OUT LOUD.  I will be unprepared to hear my superior’s input. I WILL NOT BE PREPARED FOR HIS INPUT.

It is in moments like these, my negative narrative bubbles to the top. It is pure torture and brings out every single insecurity that I have had my whole life. Yes, my entire existence becomes part of this movie. This annual movie. Why is it so hard to find the good in scenarios? What if I discuss and acknowledge all the great things I have accomplished? What if I get an opportunity to ask for help or extra support during this upcoming discussion? WHY DO I HAVE SOOOOOO MANY QUESTIONS? 

I should learn a positive auto default…”Yes, how exciting tomorrow will be. My desire to learn more and wish to advance to the next level will be answered. Fantastic.”

Now logically, I know how irrational some of my thoughts can be. If I would just admit I’m terrified of doing things wrong, it would be simpler. It would be easier to share that I am a perfectionist. Wouldn’t it be easier to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing, or I want to do better?” No, apparently, I would rather be stuck in this annual, never-ending mind loop, living in total fear of my ANNUAL (Faith, that means every single year) Performance Review. I would rather deny myself the space to grow because I am not willing to take the risk and fail.

Is it my ego suffocating this voice of reason? Am I more comfortable living in the fear of not speaking my truth, not reaching out, and not growing than I am in taking the leap? That sounds crazy.

I have been feeling sad this week. Maybe I am just exhausted from this damn movie playing over and over. Regardless, I decided I am going to do things differently because I don’t want to feel like this forever. I asked myself what do I need when I become fearful or sad? I determined that most of the time, I just want a hug. So, I did the next best thing, I called a friend. I shared everything going through my head instead of falling back on my normal coping skill of pretending everything is fine or saying “I’ve got this. I’m doing okay. I don’t need help.” All these responses cut off  the exact lifeline that I need – to connect with others. Deep down, I want to connect with others. 

When we pass up the opportunity to share and unload some of our thoughts and feelings, nobody knows what’s really going on. And it becomes a never-ending cycle of loneliness. The story in your head remains the same, how you cope with it remains the same, and the stories you tell yourself also remain the same.

Perhaps some of my fear of opening up with others is I am also fearful of opening up to myself. So, I am going to try something new. I am going to start a weekly check-in with myself – being open and honest with no judgment, and I am starting with myself. My Review. “How are you doing, and what do you need right now?” Sort of like a Performance Review.

Following my self-care month in February, I’ve realized my self-care has to be at the forefront of my mind, or I simply forget about it until it is too late. It doesn’t have to be huge like spa days and new clothes. Simple things like eating well, reaching out to others, and self-check-ins keep me on track. Self-care isn’t selfish – it is self-respect. 

When I do my Brain Dumps where I throw my thoughts on paper (quite a ride isn’t it?), I tend to feel like, “Good job, well that is over!” Problem solved. As of late, I am learning in order to recognize our habits and improve them, we often need more accountability beyond just writing them down. Checking in with an accountability buddy or team is a relatively new concept to me though I have done just that over the last year. Ensuring I am keeping my promises has increased the success rate of my goals. However, checking in with myself is all new to me.

“Did you meet your goal for the week, what worked this time and what didn’t, how are you feeling about hitting them or coming up shy, what do you need to adjust to make them achievable?” I am used to someone else asking me those questions now, but I am going to learn to ask myself the same ones. Accountability works for me, and when I am accountable to another person, it gets me out of my head. You saw how it gets if I stay in my head. 

Over the next year, I am going to be accountable to others and to myself for even small goals.

Again, as an introvert sharing openly does not come easy, and being accountable has taken a bit of getting used to. Finding someone to trust, who won’t judge you, and who will work with you as a teammate can be a challenge.  But it is worth the find.

I have learned that taking baby steps do matter. Trying small tasks such as being accountable to someone that you made your bed, or you have consumed water every day will help you get used to keeping bigger promises. With regular self-check-ins and being accountable to someone else, my hope is I  will become more acclimated to being “graded” all year long.

These past two years have really highlighted that humans were never designed to be completely isolated and shut off from everyone else. Therefore, I will no longer isolate myself or close myself off from others. Beauty lies in human connection. Magic happens when we are transparent with how we feel and what we need. We should celebrate the positivity in our lives and recognize we are not meant to be perfect. Will I be ready for my review next year? I will keep you posted.

Faith Pearce
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
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