Taking things personally

by | Sep 13, 2022

“Switch email list to Campaigns.” Those five words have been on my to-do list for approximately eight months.

In a phenomenon that probably already has a name, but we’ll call it “Erin-itis” for our purposes, this to-do list item will probably take 30 minutes, tops.  Yet those five words have taunted and tortured me for eight months.

Monday I said enough is enough, we’re making the switch. The shockingly easy process was moving along nicely, until…

“File cannot be uploaded because of special character in name.”

Ummm, excuse me?! Because I have an apostrophe in my last name you’re not going to upload my logo?! THIS CANNOT BE.

I tried another file.

Same error message.

I tried another.


I started flailing about and texting friends about the injustice of this STUPID COMPUTER SOFTWARE THAT WON’T ALLOW MY LOGO BECAUSE OF MY NAME.

I shot off an outraged email to my systems guy, a direct quote from that email: CAN THIS BE FOR REAL?!!?

I then walked away from the computer because it was time, but managed to whine to Mike and vent to a few more people about how hard it is to upload logos and what, like it’s my fault I’ve got an apostrophe in my name?! Come on, man!

Systems dude emailed back the next morning. Turns out, In my indignation, I guess I didn’t read every word in the error message, which actually read:

“File cannot be uploaded because of special character in FILE name.”

Weird. Because when I read it Monday at 5:00 when I started this project it definitely said, “File cannot be uploaded because you have an apostrophe in your name, Erin O’Malley, and out of all the things we wouldn’t allow to upload, it would be names with an apostrophe, specifically yours, so you’re SOOL, sister. Get a new logo. And oh, you’re never getting that task off your list! Have a nice day.”

It was the file name. It was not MY name.

I took it personally.

I read that error message as a direct affront to my name.

I assumed that the email software was out to get me and that everything is hard when it comes to tech.

I took a message…about a file name…and assumed that there was some sort of apostrophe censorship going on, and then proceeded to regale no less than five people about this affront.

I took it personally…and it took me off the rails.

“Don’t take it personally.” A phrase when spoken, ironically makes you want to take everything personally. Using my Monday as our example, when we take things personally, we waste energy. We swoop people into our drama. We waste time. We don’t see things for what they really are.

Chances are, it’s not personal. The tone of the email? Not personal. The look your boss gave you when they walked out of the meeting? Not personal. The person that interrupted you? Not personal.

The computer error message…definitely not personal!

Next time you find yourself defensive, feeling a little unsettled, talking trash about someone, or feeling the need to text 32 people about issues with uploading a logo…pause. Take a breath. And ask, am I taking this personally?


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