Done with U-Turns

If you look in the rear view mirror too long while you’re driving down the highway, you’ll end up in the ditch. I know that but it doesn’t change anything.

I won’t be five minutes out of a meeting before I’m putting into rank order my list of regrets about my presentation. Sometimes, I get a jump start on it, noting even while I’m stuttering or searching for a word more correct than the one I should just go ahead and use that this stumble will end up on my ‘why didn’t I do that right?’ pile along with regrets about my attire, mortification about the typo on my PowerPoint and, now the newest wrinkle, wondering how much critical conversation I might have missed because of my hearing loss.

However, there is nothing I admire more in others or want to cultivate in myself than the determination to forge ahead. And I do forge ahead. I got my Intrepid Girl badge at the jamboree years ago, the same day I got my certification in second-guessing myself. Both have been hanging on my sash for a very long time.

Today, after a meeting at which I presented proposed changes to our city’s plan to end homelessness, I texted my husband: “I wasn’t great but I got the job done.” The revisions were approved with no amendments and included several new goals with important implications for our community. There was good discussion and what seemed like a new commitment to tackling this very difficult issue. The revised plan means big changes in how we deal with homelessness and how we measure progress so I’m very proud of that.

But still, sitting in my car later, the ratcheting down began. This was wrong. That was wrong. I rewired an entire house but did it in dirty overalls and used too much duct tape.

I think it’s a female thing. I hate saying it but I think it’s true. The constant second-guessing, the endless circling back, the instantaneous fault-finding with an otherwise perfectly good meal, event, party, project, interview, I think it’s something in the water that only women drink. Men, many who probably ought to engage in some self-criticism, learn early to ‘rub some dirt on it’ and move on, a skill I really wish I had.

I get it about hindsight being 20-20. It’s also a giant pain in the ass. I’d like to get rid of hindsight and just have foresight. Maybe that’s my goal for 2015.

Getting rid of the rear view mirror.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Hindsight is 20-20.”

15 Comments on “Done with U-Turns

  1. Pingback: Blogmanay | Murder & missadventure

  2. Good read.
    I do that a lot – second guessing when after I did something I wanted approval for 🙂 and it’s hard to just switch off “the what if switch” is not there.

    Happy holidays!

  3. “The revisions were approved with no amendments and included several new goals with important implications for our community.” Really, it must be a female thing because any man (or sane person, by which I mean a woman not burdened by whatever this is) would call this a slam dunk. A triumph.

    Yes, trying to do this too. Now when I catch sight of my rear in the mirror I am saying “that’s some fine rear!”

  4. It’s totally a female thing. Men get jobs for which they’re not qualified because they figure they’ll figure it out. And we don’t apply for jobs we could rock because we figure that we don’t have the skills. Man. It’s still true. Hoping it begins to change with each of us and the next generation.

    • When I see it in other women, I call them out on it (and then, of course, go to my car and regret how I called them out, how I could have done it better, etc). It is totally endless.And ridiculous.

  5. This says so perfectly how most women think – that whatever we do is just never quite good enough. My mom was always appologizing for everything so perhaps I learned it from her. Time to unlearn it. xx

    • No kidding. What would it take for all of us to just turn off the switch some day? Boom. It’s gone. Be great. 🙂

  6. Dear Jan – you covered all my shouldas, couldas, wouldas in one explicit post! Alas, we all do it – but maybe 2015 is a good time to stop it.

    • Good to have a goal, right? I don’t have a lot of confidence in changing a lifelong pattern but, you know, stranger things have happened.

  7. Nice, Jan. I think I pretty much retired from looking in my rear view mirror when I retired from work. Although I still occasionally wake up in the middle of the night (almost 6 years later) and fret about what I could have done better. Maybe I need a lobotomy. 😀

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