Same word, “excuse”, but totally different meaning. I was in a meeting on Friday where any normal person would have defended themselves and their apparant actions. But I couldn’t do it. I wanted to, the words were there but all I kept thinking was that it’s just going to sound like I’m making excuses. That I’m going to sound desperate and pathetic and not believable.
In my previous life as an overweight person, I made excuses all the time. “I’m busy”, “I’m too tired”, “I’ll start tomorrow”, “I’m happy how I am”, “What’s the point?”. I would have said anything in order that I convinced myself that I had valid reasons for being the way that I was. And I would have made it sound believable (I thought) and heartfelt. Years have since gone by and things have changed but sometimes when I hear other people saying the same things that I said, I can hear it in their words and their voices, that they don’t believe what they’re saying anymore than I once did. They are making excuses to validate their failure.
That is not the same as excusing yourself. Remember the day I left my spinning shoes at home and got all the way to the gym before I remembered…..when I explained what happened to Ray and a couple friends, I heard that excuse-making voice coming out of my mouth. Regardless of the fact that I KNOW that it was a mistake and nothing could be done about it and I more than make up and made up for little errors like that every day, the mere act of giving an excuse for this “failure” was downright unpalatable for me.
And so, sitting in a meeting on Friday where I should have excused myself, DEFENDED myself, I couldn’t do it. In my head it all sounded like lame, unbelievable excuses said in that whiny, take-no-responsibility voice that I used to use all the time. I guess it’s a bit of a flaw in my fabric because that means that any time I fall short and would like to explain why that happened, my brain thinks that I’m trying to rationalize poor performance. In my life I take pride in my performance and I don’t like to accept a poor showing. Since I set my own goals and make my own plans and schedules, I always want to win whatever I’m doing, not against anyone else’s performance but against my own standards. There are always people who will be better or faster or stronger or smarter than me. The only person I can measure myself against is me…………and when I’m setting the bar against myself and I have to excuse myself if I don’t achieve success, I feel like it’s a whiny self-pitying excuse.
I’m very fortunate, however, that I have dear friends and family who remind me that injuries happen, exhaustion happens, overtraining and silly mistakes and unreasonable expectations and sometimes even glaring oversights happen and that these are not excuses, they are REASONS. It also bears recognition that the percentage of failure vs the percentage of success matters more. Using exercise as an example even though exercise is not the current cause of my rambling, if I exercise 20 hours/month and miss one scheduled workout in that month, my percentage of failure is 5%…..or more accurately, I was completely successful 95% of the time. Viewed like that, does it really matter what the reason/cause/excuse was for that one missed class?
Didn’t I create more value than I lost?
I have found the hardest person to forgive is myself. If I told you I made a mistake and explained what happened, would you consider that an excuse or just a simple explanation? Sometimes we need to be as kind to and forgiving of ourselves as we are to others.
Thanks, Ms. B! I know, I would probably even give you a little shake and remind you that you’re human. Apparently I need to be better than human…..we all do….in our heads. That’s why being honest to friends, family and the blogosphere is so important….because those people can give different perspective that helps us ease up on ourselves.
Thanks for the nice comment!