Today was hard. Not just because I may somehow still be hungover after my bachelorette weekend and my body has forgotten how to sleep, but because of something I never ever thought would happen to me.
The short story is: I used a text generator at work that posted controversial text on a company site. It’s a generator I’ve used many times without a problem, but this time it was filled with offensive language I thought I had removed. In no way, shape, or form did I intend to upset anyone. Buuuuuuttttt that’s not what happened.
After it was brought to my attention that the text (a quote from an actor in Pulp Fiction) was offensive, I immediately took it down. Once I was told that I had REALLY pissed someone off, I sent out an apology email. I felt kind of like a celebrity who has to apologize on twitter when their boob pops out because it was an honest mistake. But then I learned that it wasn’t clear that I had used a movie quote; I was accused of being culturally insensitive.
That’s a really serious accusation to throw at someone in such sensitive times, especially someone who bleeds rainbow and dreams of running a yoga studio/home for guinea pigs. Does that sound like someone who uses offensive slurs in a technical document? I certainly don’t think so.
It was one thing to have to send out an embarrassing apology email to an entire department, but to think that people considered that I could actually write something like that? It was an honest mistake and it’s a known fact that I’m a terrible proofreader. I was both bewildered and devastated. I try to spread love, not hate. I’m a freaking yoga teacher for pete’s sake!
It seemed like such a simple accident that blew up like an accidental fat-shaming Instagram comment. I felt sad, humiliated, and misunderstood, like that time I didn’t realize the shirt I had worn to work was completely see-through. Fortunately, I had plans to have lunch with my dad so I was able to remove myself from the situation (and pout in the stairwell). I had packed my laptop in my bag, fully prepared to message my boss and tell him I needed to work from home the rest of the day, but after talking to my dad (a seasoned tech vet) I started to feel better.
I realized that just because someone accuses you of being something you’re not, doesn’t make it true. I know in my heart that the offense I caused was an honest mistake, and hiding from it wouldn’t make me feel any better. In these situations, the best thing we can do is admit we made a mistake and keep our head held high. Sitting at home stewing in my shame would only make the situation bigger and worse than it ever needed to be.
After lunch, I walked back into my office with my head held high and smiled (as I always do) at the people I passed on my way to my desk. When I open my laptop I found a message from my boss telling me not to worry and that everyone understood that it was an honest mistake.
When life throws you into awkward situations or you make mistakes – don’t hide from them, face them. I often want to hide from my troubles but it never makes them go away. Today I feel proud of myself for not running away from this because it showed my coworkers, and myself, that I’m human and I can handle making mistakes.