I prefer the term ‘screwing up’ to ‘failing at life’ because: one, the idea of failing at life is immensely depressing; and two, it sounds a bit #basic. And yes, I use the hash tag ironically. If I didn’t I would probably be fine with the term failing at life.
I am a serial disappointment. I screw up in immeasurable ways. My most recent screw up: a job interview. Twenty minutes, five questions in, taking a sip of water, my hand starts to shake. Not normal jitters but quite violently. And then my eyes started to water. So there I am, the two interviewers looking at me while I wipe my eyes, assuring them I am not crying whilst answering a question on something that has gone wrong, what actions I took, and what I learnt from it.
This is before I forgot how to pronounce ’empathetic’ and used the word ‘mantras’ to describe the one-worded values of the organisation. So much for those excellent communication skills I boasted on my CV, in my cover letter and in question one of the interview: what strengths, experiences and skills do you bring to this role?
I blamed it on a mixture of being under the weather and having a lot of nervous energy. This would have been fine. I could have lived with this, justifying yet another failure to myself. It would be OK and life would go on as usual. So, after this interview I went back to work. It’s a short contract. I was interviewing for the permanent role. The interviewers – the same two that had sat in a room with me trying not express horror/laugh – then came up and sat down at my bank of computers. It was awkward.
I wasn’t getting this job. I knew it, they knew. Hell, I knew before I even went to this interview that I had very little chance of getting this job. The internal candidate I was up against was competent, skilled and experienced. She knew her stuff. And strangely this had put me at ease – interviewing for a role I knew I would not get with interviewers I had been working with… I could practice my technique, get honest feedback. I could make use of this opportunity. Instead I screwed up.