My career is ruined

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My career is ruined

Postby SurrealistScone » June 19th, 2014, 3:29 am

I am involved at an improv theater and I am worried that everyone there hates me. I have only taken one class but have continuously interned there ( basically consisting of running lights/sound during shows, taking tickets, running box office, etc) and have gone to free classes and jams. They are really adamant about starting your next level as soon as your class ends, which I have not done.

Te reason why I think they hate me is because of an incident a few weeks ago. I was working box office and was not sure how to work their credit card machine. So as a result, many cards did not get scanned and I made them lose money. They never asked me to pay them back but I feel horrible because That was over $200.

I have had to drop my next class this week because I can't afford it and am worried about that. I worry that I am seen as unreliable and stupid because of the card thing. And because the improv community is small here, I am terrified that people talk and word of my card incident has spread and no one will ever cast me. Is my career in improv ruined?
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Re: My career is ruined

Postby weary » June 19th, 2014, 11:01 am

You made a mistake. You're human. From what you said, you didn't try to hide it or cover it up. You can't go back in time and fix it. It sounds like that was a pretty hard thing to ask you to do... that seems very demanding, that as a participant in this group you are forced to participate in many different ways regardless of what you feel comfortable doing.

I know what it feels like to have that feeling that everyone is judging you and everyone has a negative opinion of you. In my experience, no matter how much I feel that, it turns out to not be true. Some people are going to like you and some aren't. Some may have a reason they don't like you, and some might just be assholes. If the other people collectively involved in this improv group can't get over a mistake and will make you a pariah for the rest of your life because of it, it doesn't sound like a group of people I would want to hang out with anyway.

The arts is a hard racket, the performing arts especially so, and improv.... ? My god, you must be a brave and passionate person to even be pursuing that for a career. Everything I know about the performing world has led me to believe that you have to deal with a lot of rejection, a lot of judgment, even a lot of humiliation in the course of making a name for yourself. I don't think your future career will be defined by one incident or even the total work you do at one theater. Maybe it will be rough for a while if people remain irritated with you over this. But if this is your dream, try to use the experience to make you learn and grow going forward and don't give up.
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Re: My career is ruined

Postby oak » June 19th, 2014, 3:17 pm

I worked as a cashier for a few years, and it is process that is easy to mess up, especially at first. They probably asked too much of you.

I encourage you to contact the president and/or board and offer to pay back the lost money. That is, if you reputation with them means more than the $200. Only you can answer that.
"Work is love made visible." -Kahlil Gibran

"We gotta make a decision: leave tonight or live and die this way." -Tracy Chapman
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Re: My career is ruined

Postby bigeekgirl » June 22nd, 2014, 11:14 am

You are your own hardest critic. Everyone makes mistakes. I'm sure your troupe is far more forgiving than you could imagine. Don't give up your dreams. Work through it with group because you wouldn't be there if they didn't value your involvement.
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Re: My career is ruined

Postby oak » June 22nd, 2014, 11:23 am

Clarification: when I say "they probably asked too much of you", I meant in the sense that they should either:

1. Give you the proper training
2. Hire a professional cashier

or else continue to suffer cash mistakes.

ie, they didn't give you enough to work with, to be able to succeed. I didn't mean to imply that you are a substandard cashier.
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Re: My career is ruined

Postby InSpiteOfEverything » June 24th, 2014, 2:31 am

This! --> "You made a mistake. You're human." It's okay to make mistakes, and it's best to own up to them when they affect other people. It sounds like you did, and that's a difficult and admirable thing to do.

And, boy, do I identify with this! --> "I know what it feels like to have that feeling that everyone is judging you and everyone has a negative opinion of you." I have a PhD* and work in higher education, but I still feel like an idiot when I have to fill out paperwork for even the simplest things. I think it might be some kind of previously unacknowledged cognitive disability that I have. So I just decided to admit that I need help with such paperwork and ask people to help me. Perhaps you could do the same with someone who seems especially kind or helpful in this group? You don't have to be like everyone else in order to belong.

Another source of anxiety for me is that I'm sometimes pretty flakey with completing tasks that I've promised someone I'll complete. And a dysfunctional way I'll deal with the anxiety of having to complete that task is just to avoid it or put it out of my mind, which makes it worse. I work closely with someone on my campus who I could tell was getting frustrated with me for this, and I finally just admitted to her that I was sometime paralyzed by the fear that I was going to do something wrong, that I was having trouble sleeping, and that I knew that it was frustrating for her. Thankfully, she was very understanding and even talked about her own struggles with such anxiety. As a result, I worry less about what she thinks of me. Is there someone in this group you feel more comfortable with that might lend a sympathetic ear to you? People can be kinder than you might expect.

And consider the worst-case scenario: what if everyone in this group is thinking bad thoughts about you? I can guarantee you that this is not what's happening, but let's just imagine for a second that it is. If this is what's happening, then these are not people you want to be spending time with. Nothing you've described about your own behavior seems significantly bad at all. So if everyone reacts extremely negatively to the completely human and understandable things that you've done, then there's something wrong with them and not you. Seriously. And your continued mental health will depend upon finding a different group of people to be around. Having said that, I just want to repeat that it seems extremely unlikely that everyone has a negative opinion of you.

If your anxiety (and your anxiety about your anxiety) is really getting in the way, here are a few coping strategies that I am trying to develop that might be helpful to you:
  • Guided meditation, using audio that I've downloaded from a podcast, ripped from a CD, or recorded from my counselor.
  • Good (or least decent) nutrition: for example, coffee is not a substitute for breakfast! ;)
  • Being serious about getting enough sleep.
  • Regular exercise, which started as just taking relatively long walks daily but which has evolved into doing the Couch-to-5k running (okay, it's really jogging) program (with friends!)
  • Reaching out to a couple of long-time friends, telling them what I'm going through, and asking them to be a part of my support network, just listening to me when I need to talk about stuff that's freaking me out.

(*sidebar: I can admit that one of the reasons I went all the way to a PhD in my education is probably anxiety over what other people think of me and/or my intelligence. Spoiler alert: it doesn't help. :D I've been awarded large grants, teaching awards, been invited to give talks at colleges or universities with international reputations, and I still carry around that nagging voice telling me that everyone knows I'm an idiot and that I'm going to be exposed as one any day now. [And even as I'm typing this, I'm thinking, anxiously, "Geez, these people are going to think you're such an asshole for bragging about your accomplishments..."] I bring this up, however, to make the point that coming up with healthy coping strategies is a better way of dealing with anxiety about others' opinions, in my experience, than trying to do the things that you think will make other people have positive opinions about you.)

Hang in there, trust that things will get better, and have faith in people's kindness.
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Re: My career is ruined

Postby InSpiteOfEverything » June 24th, 2014, 2:34 am

Urgh... Is there no way to go back and edit a post? Can't seem to find one.

When I say "strategies I am trying to develop," I don't mean I'm the one who came up with them. I mean, instead, that I'm trying to develop my use of them on a regular basis in my life.
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Re: My career is ruined

Postby Brooke » October 11th, 2014, 5:34 am

No your career is not ruined. But it's such an awful feeling to have...we care so much about what other people think...it's like our lives are solely dependent on how others think of us...I feel your pain... I have very strong tendencies to be a people-pleaser and it's gotten me into so much anxiety... I sensor everything I say and whatever "mistakes" I did, I would beat myself up so hard, I would feel completely worthless. But recently, I've realized that everybody makes mistakes and I cannot go on living like this. The only way to overcome this fear is to build a positive wall, shield (whatever you want to call it) called boundaries. Instead of worrying about what others think of me, I worry about what I think of me. What would make ME proud? Being liked by people is a plus, but it will not get you anywhere. No one is going to or can build your career for you. In order for you to get what you want in your career, you have to be ruthless (and I don't mean that in a negative way). If you respect yourself, forgive yourself and move on, others will too. You are showing them how to treat you. Be "self-absorbed." Don't even look towards outside validation (ultimately, they mean nothing.) The most important validation is the one you give yourself. The ironic thing is that once you stop caring about what others think and just be yourself, they treat you with respect. It's because they sense that you respect yourself, that you are deserving of that respect. It's scary at first, but once you get the hang of it and you realize you don't die, it's very freeing and powerful.
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