There are many emotions and feelings that drive us human beings. Some for the better, some for the worse. Amongst them is guilt. This is the feeling you get when you feel yourself responsible or are made to feel responsible for unfortunate turn of events. There may be many reasons for one to feel this. May be someone failed to achieve a personal goal, may be they didn’t get good grades, may be they let someone down. The causes and effects of guilt can be many. I’ll tell you about mine. Or at least try to.
Given my own set of talents and skills with some above average I don’t have a great academic record. My parents, teachers and some friends have always cited this and tried to make me feel about this. I guess the lowest point was when I flunked two subjects in the second year of my college. Sure Mom was mad, it was the talk of the day in the staff, friends were taken back, and even I was sullen for two days. Not guilty mind you. Academics never interested me that much. Sure I know most of the things that are taught and made to be learned. That’s the whole point of going to school and college. But somehow I never got interested in exams. I mean I know that if I didn’t prepare well for the exams, I was bound to not excel it. I just did enough to get through fine. This was echoed by a former principal who called mom to the office and said that I was only studying MINIMUM during the exams to pass. When mom told me of it, I think I sported a big grin. During the time I failed in college and went all sullen it was not out of guilt. I was thinking that I could get so miserable that I didn’t clear two subjects that I didn’t particularly like. And the fact that I’d have to do it all again, which effectively laid waste to six months worth of time that had to be devoted to a subject. So I got down to it, and cleared all my subjects within time having taken them as extra exam only subjects. Maybe it has to do with the fact that all my preparations for it, which were a known conscious decision.
Or another thing happens with the times I talk with some of the ‘elder’ people, be it in our outside of my family relations. Some people don’t like how forthcoming I can get at times. I have told teachers to their face when I believe that they’re wrong. When discussions get interesting and I get to say my say, I am told that I should treat them with respect and should feel guilty for my words. I cannot get how the only criteria for respect should be age. And why should I feel guilty about not following it. Their standards not mine.
Many times shame and guilt are along the same lines. When I was young, innocent and gullible and teachers used to ask me don’t you have any shame, I was in a dilemma. You see I didn’t know the meaning of the word shame. So when I said yes, they tried to invoke the feeling of shame and guilt in me which I couldn’t feel as much as I tried. So in turn when I said no, oh there was a whole lot of trouble. Somehow that feeling has remained stuck to me ever since.
When it comes to work it’s a different thing. Some time ago we had an internal calibration and preparation audit for an audit that was supposed to take place sometime around late December. So when our auditors came for it and we went to different workstations to get audited, some results and observations showed lack of preparedness. I was directly responsible for some. I had multiple things to get done and prioritized accordingly. Sure it turned out to be wrong, and that I had to hear something for it, I am not against that. I had to make some choices, I made the wrong ones. I can live with that. My immediate boss was also along with me as an auditee that time. SO the auditors then said that it was understandable that there was lack of preparedness as I am new and would have issues managing the shift operations and the preparedness and they slowly turned some things on him. That really got to me. That’s where the guilt began creeping in. I mean I screwed up, so why should I be excused for the reason that I am new. I am new so what, that does not make me any less accountable for my work. And then that some things ended up on my boss. Why should others be blamed or held for my work? If my work is to be reflected on, then it should be me. My boss has shown great trust in me by taking forward steps in guiding me to the ways of the work and lets me take responsibilities head on when I want to. And after all that if my lack of work should somehow make him to look bad, then I feel guilty.
My work should be a reflection of me. My bads should not necessarily reflect on my boss. Saying that would reduce my own accountability. I may be new at work but that does not excuse me for not getting work done on time. I may give my best at times but if it doesn’t get the work done, that I have not given enough. And if I have not given enough I have not succeeded. And should the shadow of my failure be cast upon someone else, I’ll feel guilty.
The beautiful thing about guilt is that try as much as you may as long as the said person doesn’t feel a gut wrenching remorse about his or her inadequacies from the inside you cannot make them feel guilty. There’s whole big factor of the said person’s own standards.