I was a fairly good kid growing up. I was pretty quiet, and pretty calm, and wasn't really one to get into too much trouble. This is not to say I was some sort of angel; I definitely wasn't. I was just a fairly mild kid. Of course when I was bad, as children tend to be, I was punished.
In my house punishments were pretty standard; picking your own switches to be spanked with, time out, denial of TV/games/time with friends, and other threats that parents make. Of all the punishments that my mother inflicted on me the one that I always feared most was her simply saying she was disappointed in me.
I could handle being spanked or denied luxuries, I just couldn't handle the idea that I had done something that disappointed her. Angering her was not pleasant but it was acceptable not disappointment. I am not sure she realized just how much the phrase "I am disappointed in you" could affect me.
It wasn't just my mother that I feared disappointing. It turns out that the idea of disappointing anyone that I respect or that looks up to me is positively terrifying. I want so badly to make the people I care about proud of me and to justify their faith in me that the idea of failing them makes me queasy.
Having this particular fear makes being in a position of authority over a large group of people that I have massive amounts of respect for incredibly difficult. I am placed in the position of teaching them and guiding them so that they can be successful in our art, which is a huge responsibility.
I sit there imparting knowledge on them and I can't help but wonder if they realize that I am as nervous and insecure as they are. Our first year students, and our vets too, are looking up to me and wanting to make me proud and not disappoint me while at the same time I am wanting to do the same for them.
I am always afraid that one day that I will fail so epically that they all stop and look at me and think that there was never any reason to have that respect for me. I fear that they will see me as some sort of charlatan who was just pretending to be knowledgeable. Living up to others expectations is really stressful.
I have to remind myself that I have been doing this for a long time and been very successful at it. I have to remind myself of the extensive training and practical application I have under my belt. I have to remind myself that people that are smarter and more talented than me that I have absolute faith in put me in this position and they had to believe that I could do this. I have to remember I am completely capable.
Still I don't think I will ever stop being shocked when everything turns out right. I don't think I will ever truly get used to being told that I have done a good job. I don't think I will ever stop worrying about disappointing people.
I just have to remember that the people I don't want to disappoint are just as afraid of disappointing me as I am of disappointing them. I have to remember that we are all going to fail at some point but we have each other there to help the other up to try again.
We are never alone.