Your opinion is not my reality

HARK!For a long time I thought I was a terrible accountant.  I had passed my exams, gained experience and a qualification, but I felt it wasn’t good enough.  Why? Because the audit manager I was working for at the time had said something to that effect.

And for even longer I thought I wasn’t a good enough cook.  Why?  Because an uncle had commented on my lack of knowledge of a particular common Indian dish – he’d wanted it, my mum asked me to make it, and I needed her to tell me how to do that.  His daughter made it all the time, and never had to ask her mum.

Both instances, although offhand comments, made me question how ‘other people’ saw me.  I was in my early twenties and what other people thought of me was hugely important.  My self-confidence took a pretty big battering when I realised some of the ‘other people’ thought I was lacking in something, whether it was my accountancy credentials or my cooking skills.

That set off a bit of a chain reaction.  If other people thought I wasn’t good at these things, maybe they thought I wasn’t good at other things either – they just hadn’t said so out loud.  Maybe I was pretty rubbish at a lot of things?  And of course the self-doubt kicked in, and helped me make those thoughts a reality.  I didn’t feel good enough, and the self-protection mode I used to cope was to join the ‘I don’t care, I didn’t want to be good at that anyway’ club.  So for years I avoided cooking Indian food, saying I didn’t like it so why bother learning how to cook it.  And at work I told anyone who listened that I wasn’t really bothered about promotion or moving up.

I’m not sure when things started to change – it was a gradual process.  It was partly through self-development courses, and books and ideas, and partly through the wisdom that can only come with experience.  I just stopped caring what other people thought of me.  So what if I didn’t remember one particular recipe for one dish at one time?  Isn’t that what Google is for?  And so what if I was a Certified Accountant and not a Chartered Accountant?  I was still going out to clients, completing audits, earning the firm money.  I was still an Accountant.

This week I was doing the work of a junior accounts payable clerk.  One of the other girls said she felt bad that they didn’t have anything more meaningful for me to do.  Did it dent my confidence?  Did it heck!  I don’t care if my colleagues think it’s beneath me.  It doesn’t make me feel inferior.  (In fact, I was quite enjoying doing something so basic and straightforward.  It left my brain free to mull over this post!)  I’m comfortable enough in myself and my vision for my future.  I know this contract is just temporary – it’s not a statement about me.  My colleague might see me in a particular way, but that does not mean I am that way.  Someone else’s opinion is not my reality.  Don’t let it be yours either.

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