I used to be a board game flipper. Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of the details, I suppose that’s a side effect of Hulk-ing. But either when I was losing really badly, or maybe after I had already lost, I flipped the board game and stormed off.
I couldn’t handle my frustration.
While I’ve outgrown throwing board games, I wouldn’t say that I’m cured. Extreme frustration can still put my projects in mortal peril.
As a recent example, I felt like I was walking a tight rope with my college experience blog post. I wanted to show that I was slow developing meaningful friendships, but without discounting the amazing people I went to school with. I wanted to show that I took my studies seriously, had fun, and traveled, but without appearing to brag. I wanted to get my point across, but without rambling. I wanted celebrate my overall experience, but without undermining other peoples’. I felt like I was continuously falling off the tight rope.
I became frustrated, and I was seriously tempted to trash the post altogether.
But surprisingly, something I learned from a baking show saved the day.
Thanks to California’s recent rain after the long drought, this has been my first season with allergies. I was in denial when the symptoms first hit, but it was (and continues to be!) allergies. I feel like I’ve turned into a walking billboard for Claritin.
Allergies are a funny thing – especially as a metaphor. I’ve been thinking about the term “allergic to failure” recently. I’m not sure where it came from, but perhaps it started with Eminem’s lyric: “I must be allergic to failure, ’cause every time I get close to it, I just sneeze.”
While Eminem may be allergic to failure in a metaphorically healthy(?) way, not giving it much attention, I think I’m allergic to failure in more of a clinical way.
By which I mean, I completely overreact.
When you have allergies, your body misidentifies an external element as dangerous and attacks it violently, which causes the symptoms we see on the eyes, nose, throat, skin, etc. Through this process, your immune system creates antibodies that sound the alarm every time you’re exposed in the future, and your body continually overreact every time you’re exposed to the allergen.
Even though the allergen is harmless. There’s no threat.
That is how I am allergic to failure. Not in a cool Eminem-I-just-sneeze-at-it kind of way, but in a I-completely-overract-and-will-cause-chaos-to-avoid-it kind of way.
Neither failure nor allergens warrant the overreaction I give them.
Starting around junior high, I was a little problematic. On top of having difficulty navigating the social ups and downs of middle school, I felt (as many adolescents erringly do) misunderstood by my parents and convinced that they were trying to ruin my life. To prove my point, I was explosive, frequently screaming “You wouldn’t understand!” and “You’re ruining my life!” – followed stomping and door slams. Not my finest hour.
Since I clearly wasn’t open to my mom’s input, she smartly sought out someone that I could talk to. She found a girl at our church about five years older than me who was willing to mentor me through this tough time.
When I started Wildflowers & Progress, I caught myself filtering decisions about the blog through a sieve of fear regarding what a particular friend would think of me. This person has been a good friend through difficult times, but they don’t have a desire to understand what they deem illogical. They call it like they see it, even at the risk of hurting or discouraging others. I’ve been hurt by this friend, and there’s one instance in particular that I’ve carried with me for far too long.
A few years ago, I was embarking on a new challenge that I was really excited about. I shared it with this friend, and they said that I would fail, and even if I somehow succeeded, it was still a bad idea. Ouch.
I know some people believe a true friend will support you in whatever you want to do, and while there’s some merit to this, I think it’s oversimplified. If I tell a friend I’m going to jump off a building and neglect to mention I’m bungee jumping, they’re right to want to stop me.
I think that’s what happened here. This friend was operating on misinformation, but their intention was to protect me. True, I wish we could have had a discussion about my perspective, but even that’s not the real problem.
First things first: Nobody is fully encompassed by one personality type. The purpose of this post is not to oversimplify people, but rather to better understand ourselves and others, so that we can love others better.
I share this post because I’ve definitely made mistakes and learned lessons that I’m hoping to give you the shortcut to!
While there are many great personality profiles, this breakdown comes from Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus book. I fully recommend picking it up, as it’s obviously much more comprehensive than this post.
Still, I’ll do my best to provide something entertaining and valuable!