Gretchen Rubin

A Little Happier: “No Hard Feelings. These Things Happen.”


I’m an Upholder, which means that I’m very committed to meeting both outer and inner expectations, and I hate to make mistakes or screw up.

And recently, I screwed up in a big way. I was participating in a conference, and I realized that I had the date wrong. On my calendar, my event was on Sunday, but in fact the date had been changed, and now my event was on the Friday before – and I realized my mistake on Thursday! The day before I was scheduled to appear! And that was the day that I was traveling back from California!

Because of the time change and jet lag, I realized this mistake at about 4 a.m. on Thursday morning. I felt terrible. I immediately emailed the conference organizer and my co-panelist and explained what happened, and that I would try to deal with it. And they both emailed me back the same message

One wrote: “Just want to say upfront no hard feelings. These things happen.”

The other wrote: "And as someone who has produced many live shows, I can tell you it happens to everyone at some point of another! I hope everything can get worked out. For what it's worth I'm not upset with you, these things happen!

They both specifically told me that they weren’t angry, and they both said “these things happen.”

And this was so comforting to me. It really helped me to calm down, and being calmer made it easier to make the logistical changes that I needed to make to deal with this issue. (Another aspect of being an Upholder is that I hate it when plans change, especially when they change drastically and at the last minute.)

End of story: it all worked out. But it really taught me how to handle a situation like that, the next time I'm on the other side. It's really helpful to say: “I’m not angry. These things happen. Let’s figure out what to do.

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