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AIBU to think that I'm just not quite clever enough? I'm always struggling.

(24 Posts)
IL0veCl0thes Mon 06-Nov-17 20:07:17

Crashed out totally at school obviously so I didn't go to university, although on the plus side I have lived in Spain so I'm bilingual. However, all of the jobs I've ever had, I have seemed to struggle to understand them. I ended up working in reinsurance at one point because I had Spanish, so it seemed great to begin with but then the actual reinsurance was v hard to understand so I never progressed really. I was sent in to lloyd's and I was terrified it would become obvious I didn't know what I was talking about. I basically didn't understand my own job for years. I'm a single parent so now I'm trying to support myself. I lost my last job. They said to me ''you learn from your mistakes'' but then they fired me for making mistakes. I know they were arseholes who never backed me up when the public were being appalling to me but I can't help thinking that if I'd been smarter I would have picked it up quicker and would have made fewer mistakes and I wouldn't have been sacked. The job I have now, it's to do with financial calculations and I've only been there 8 weeks and I'm finding it tough. 8 of us were taken on at once and we are all assigned cases. I don't think I'm getting through as many cases as the others. I do ask questions but I don't understand things the first time they're explained to me. I just feel like I have been faking having a reasonable level of intelligence. We all need to believe we are at least average I think. What if I'm below average? Somebody has to be! It's making life hard and I don't know when it all ends. I've tried to get in to event co-ordination because that would suit my personality type (enfj) and it sounds like it just requires organisation and communication which I could do but the demand for that type of work is very high; probably because it is very do-able.
I will die of shame if I lose this job too.
Anybody feel like this? What do you do?
I'm interested in philosophy and psychology and those things do make me feel better about being whoever I am but when I apply that to surviving in the real world I feel a lot of fear!
Do those exercises to increase your brain power work? Like soduko? Can they raise your level of intelligence? Is there anything I can do to just BE cleverer and pick things up quicker?

ShirleyPhallus Mon 06-Nov-17 20:09:15

I often think that many people don't actually gain any more knowledge at work, they just get better at covering up what they don't know

I have someone like you on my team and my solution has been to give her repetitive tasks to do so even if she doesn't understand then she can still do it if that makes sense

IL0veCl0thes Mon 06-Nov-17 20:12:21

Yes, that helps me. If I get one type of case 5 times in a row then I think, right, got that now, finally. I hope my boss does that. She assigned a few things to me last night and she said they don't require calculations but they do require ''carefully worded emails'' so I thought phew at least that is a few cases I can close. I hope she doesn't fire me for not being the best.

holdbackonthewine Mon 06-Nov-17 22:57:21

A lot of very successful people have told me over the years that they’re secretly bluffing and thinking people might realise one day that they don’t understand this or that. You’re not alone!

You’re articulate so perhaps you just haven’t found the right area of employment. Maybe you could do one of those suitability tests?

doodle01 Mon 06-Nov-17 23:17:45

You suffer from lack of confidence.
Confidence issues kill the ability to think clearly as your scared of making a mistake.
Take a deep breath. If you don't understand something it is a strength to admit it so that you dont make any mistakes. If an employer doesnt recognise this they probably don't know what they are doing themselves.
It is often easier the higher you go as you often don't have to take fast time decisions and can have the benefit of hindsight and someone else's mistake.
Some of my past really senior bosses have been complete dodos and would never have passed the selection processes they often preside over.

doodle01 Mon 06-Nov-17 23:19:37

and you can write a sensible report and also maybe in Spanish always deeply impressive.

junebirthdaygirl Mon 06-Nov-17 23:41:06

I wonder do you have some kind of dyslexia or something like that. My ds has dyslexia and although orally very quick he gets confused figuring stuff out and the stress of that makes him worse. Actually he works in events and is brilliant at it and a lot of his coworkers are actually dyslexic too. Although l couldnt see him getting fluent in a language.

LellyMcKelly Mon 06-Nov-17 23:50:22

My partner has dyslexia and finds it impossible to learn another language. He has tried a number of times as it would benefit him in his job, but weirdly he is a whizz kid programmer. Doodle is right - you lack confidence. For many of us, especially women, it's known as Imposter Syndrome - thinking you aren't good enough when in fact, you're more than able. Think about what you are good at - you're bilingual and can write a decent report. Ask for training on the areas where you feel you are weak.

bumblingbovine49 Mon 06-Nov-17 23:59:55

Maybe you are just not good with numbers. You seem to have been in very analytical jobs. You are probably in the wrong type of job.

PerspicaciaTick Tue 07-Nov-17 00:23:56

You sound like the majority of people I work with.
You sound like you have very low self-confidence, while expecting a lot of yourself.
It could be that you need to find ways of helping yourself to retain information and access it easily net time you are working on a similar task. I write everything down in small steps for each task I do regularly, then I type them up so I can try and spot gaps. I also work best having notes, on paper, beside me and I do the whole colour-coding thing with different pens to help me follow what I am doing.
Don't be afraid to ask to help. Do you make mistakes because you don't like to ask for help?

violetbunny Tue 07-Nov-17 08:01:51

You sound a bit like my partner, who has ADHD. He struggles with processing a lot of new information at once. At school he was labelled a slow learner (he tells me he has always taken longer than most people to learn anything in his life, even how to tie his shoes). He is actually very intelligent and excels with people skills in particular.

He's had similar workplace frustrations to you - feeling like he isn't quite catching on quickly enough. Working in a supportive environment has made all the difference for him as it's given him a massive confidence boost. He was basically managed out by his previous employer who really knocked his confidence so it was a bit of a downward spiral, however he's been at a new company for 2 years now and is flourishing.

He wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until the issues with his previous employer - I think having the diagnosis has helped him identify what things he can change to help him succeed, and importantly to feel more confident.

IL0veCl0thes Tue 07-Nov-17 17:22:45

I do hesitate to ask questions as I always feel I should know already (and maybe that's true). Funnily enough I was doing something a bit different today; delivering bad news sensitively. Tasks I hate less than others.
Definetely don't have an excuse. No dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, adhd, nothing like that. Just not super smart :-/

I will be ok in six months if I can get through it. I'm a slow learner but when i do learn it I know it and I can explain to others so I'm hoping I get through the first 6-9 months without getting a reputation for being a bit .... average.

IL0veCl0thes Tue 07-Nov-17 17:26:25

Violetbunny, good to hear your H got his confidence back. I felt such a thick loser after last place fired me. Destroyed any initiative I had. Even for communication and organisation.
Trying to channel my paranoia in to a productive heightened state of concentration and avoid the downward spiral. I nearly had a stutter after I left my last job.

junebirthdaygirl Wed 08-Nov-17 23:30:17

You may have one of those things eg dyslexia and not be diagnosed. You may be so used to living with it that you dont realise how its holding you back.
I work a lot with children with dyslexia and a lot of their parents have struggled but never thought for a moment they were dyslexic until child diagnosed.

64BooLane Wed 08-Nov-17 23:35:11

Your emails are well written, though. Judging purely by those, I’d never think you were of lower than average intelligence! Far from it. You just sound like you’re in a type of job that doesn’t really align with your abilities.

64BooLane Wed 08-Nov-17 23:37:13

God that sounded really patronising and it wasn’t meant to! Just meant it was a shame to read that someone who writes such expressive posts (I meant posts not emails!) thinks they’re thick.

goldinthemtherestars Thu 09-Nov-17 00:02:37

I agree with 64BooLane. You don't strike me as lacking in intelligence at all, in fact you come across as articulate and brimming over with emotional intelligence. I think you are probably just not great with numbers and have somehow found yourself in the wrong type of job, namely financial services. Neither do I think you are in any way dyslexic because your well-written posts and the clear way you've explained your situation suggest quite the opposite. Also, you are bilingual - that's a great asset and a huge achievement.

Maybe you could do some sort of psychological profile test that would steer you towards a job where you will flourish and your obvious strengths will be appreciated and valued. Good luck, you are remarkably self-aware and sound like a lovely person.

TheLambshankRedemption Thu 09-Nov-17 00:05:48

Google 'impostor syndrome', lots of bright women (and men) suffer from it.

maddening Thu 09-Nov-17 00:09:15

Do you take notes and review your procedural documents/instructions/training material. Part of school is learning how to learn so maybe you need to focus on reviewing and note taking so that you have a reference point as you work through your cases.

HeddaGarbled Thu 09-Nov-17 00:31:14

You are identifying your strengths and weaknesses and heading in the right direction to identify the right fit for you. So, complex financial calculations - no. Delivering bad news sensitively - yes. Writing carefully worded emails - yes. You were interested in events management. What attracted you to that? Was it the interaction with clients?

I suspect that you may be a good communicator. I think you need to be looking at something where you have a lot of interaction with customers rather than sitting in an office following procedures.

This could be anything from teaching, psychology, consultancy, PR, working in a complaints department, many management roles.

It does sound like your manager is starting to identify your strengths and difficulties and steer you towards tasks which need your particular skills. Teams need a range of skills and you may just be about to carve out your niche as the person to use when some diplomacy and sensitivity are needed, whilst another colleague may be the one to go to when you need a complicated calculation done.

Want2bSupermum Thu 09-Nov-17 01:52:32

You do not come across as a slow learner or 'thick'. You are in the wrong job. Have you thought about brand management/marketing/sales? I agree on your communication skills being of a good standard.

I briefly worked with reinsurance and was an economics graduate with strong maths skills. I understood the calculations but honestly I wouldn't expect anyone to just be able to pick up those skills without a talent in maths. It's actuarial skills that they are expecting you to understand with reinsurance normally. It's years of a formal training program to learn it all.

IL0veCl0thes Thu 09-Nov-17 19:03:32

Thanks everybody. I have tried to get into jobs that would suit me better but those jobs seem to be in even greater demand!
If I can avoid being fired from this job for a while I can edge laterally and gradually towards a role that suits me better.

20 years ago, before spell check, my level of English was a more immediately obvious asset in any written application. I suppose!
Now, spell check has levelled the playing field in the area that was my only forté!

IL0veCl0thes Thu 09-Nov-17 19:06:51

Ps yes realising that my boss is very observant with regard to dynamics between various members of team. Things I thought I was the only one to have noticed, it has become clear that she sees everything and that will serve me a little better than a boss who didnt notice interpersonal dynamics. That probably sounds cryptic! But the details would be boring.

Anatidae Thu 09-Nov-17 19:10:40

Ask more questions. Seriously. My mantra with my team is ‘always ask if you’re not sure.’ I make quite sure that they know that there are no stupid questions. That if they don’t understand then it’s likely someone hasn’t explained it well and that others are wondering too, that it does no good to fumble about and that often, what seems like a daft question can expose a real weakness in a process or something we haven’t thought of.

I work in a very technical, complex field, and it strikes me every single day that most of us don’t have a clue what we are doing and just bumble through.

So ask more questions. Because it’s unlukely you’re thick and more likely that you’re just honest enough to say ‘what on Earth is this all about...?’

Find your learning style as well. It’s taken moving to another country and trying to learn a language for me to realise that my memory is incredible in some ways (written information, visual information) and dire, really shit in others (spoken word/heard information.)

Actuarial work is very involved. Look at the trainjng these people undergo - I think you’re trying to do a job without those years of intensive training, it’s. I wonder you’re struggling.

Have a good think about what your strengths are and maybe change fields?

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