I was homeschooled for my entire life. Well, except for first grade. In first grade my sister and I went to a private Christian school. When I went there I had this teacher, and she was pretty great. My sister had her own teacher, and she was pretty great–especially for her. About halfway through the school year, my teacher went on maternity leave, and I got a new teacher–my sister’s teacher. Suddenly, I wasn’t just Zanetta, I was “Vania’s sister”. One time I had this project where I had to color some thank you notes. I’m pretty sure she was just using it as a way to kill time before the next activity. My 7-year-old brain did not have the patience for this. I had already finished several cards, and I was feeling pretty done. So, I started scribbling. Probably passive aggressively. I took my sloppily colored card up to the front to hand it in and get yet another one, and my teacher took it out of my hands, opened it up, and frowned. “I would have expected a better job from Vania’s sister.”
My sister is an extremely talented artist. She is almost 5 years older than me, and I’ve always looked up to her artistic abilities. From the time I was a very young girl, I remember thinking about how talented my sister was, and in contrast, how I “didn’t have any talents.” I felt like God must have overlooked me when he was giving out talents. I used to drive my poor sister crazy by talking about this. Almost 20 years later, and I have developed some skills of my own. But I still feel like Master of Soft Skills is the most accurate title for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the mechanics of how to perform a lot of different tasks. I usually know basically what I’m doing wrong, but I completely lack the patience to actually develop technical competence. Good enough works for me. Getting an ok result for minimal output feels like a great trade, depending on the thing. I figure, if I want a better result, I can just put out more output, right?
But what happens when the master of soft skills has to perform highly detailed tasks? When your business is on the line, and it’s depending on your ability to get over yourself and do things you’re just not freaking good at? When you have to stretch really far and be a top notch sales person, process guy, CEO, secretary, marketer, photographer, PCQI, social media guru, website administrator, janitor, delivery person, customer service rep, and manual laborer?
You go into a very deep depression.
You call yourself a failure.
You let balls drop.
You don’t return phone calls.
You consider how the lives of people you love would be better off without you.
For about 5 weeks.
I managed to pull myself together to meet with a friend who didn’t know what I was going through. We did some basic chit chat, and I decided to ask her for some advice about marketing. She gave me some really good ideas, and all I could do was sigh, because I knew I just wasn’t in the right mental space to be able to actually implement anything creative. I finally opened up to her about how I’m struggling to balance it all.
Most people go straight for the advice. “Oh, set aside a day every week to just be creative!” Yeah I know, I’ve heard that before. Easier said than done. She didn’t do that. Instead, she said something that was so healing for me. She looked at me and said, “Zanetta, what you’re doing is hard! Of course you’re getting caught up in the operational details. Creative tasks are the furthest thing from your mind. Seasoned CEOs don’t have to deal with the operational details that you do, and they still have trouble with making big picture decisions.”
I think one of the hardest things about what I do is being alone. I assume that I’m not enough. But that’s a lie. I am enough.