The Story of the Late Fee

The Story of the Late Fee

I straight up lost my mind last week. 

Here’s what happened: 

There’s this service provider that I’ve worked with for about four years. I even worked in the business at one point and have since helped out wherever I’m needed and brought along with me whatever value I could. Felt like I knew the team well and that I was a little bit a part of them even though I’d moved on professionally. 

Last week, I discovered a late fee on my account. Huge, unreasonable amount in my mind. And it compounded daily.

I just couldn’t even. 

So I wrote up an email to ask what was up. Expressed my opinion that the fee was a little steep and explained my side. 

They replied back that the fee stood. 

My defenses flared and I lost it.  

I didn’t storm the building or scream at anyone. But I did throw a tantrum inside my own brain and sent an email that could have been kinder. The service provider then sent something back. I interpreted the tone as short and rude. The unfriendliness continued. It wasn’t even a little bit fun. Sitting all alone in my office, I got more and more worked up as I read and wrote each new message.  

All of it came to a head when the woman I was emailing replied back that my comments were “unfair and inappropriate” and that “nothing could be further than the truth”.

Anyone else hear her calling me a liar? 


So I sat. And stared. And conjured up a scathing response alongside a wicked defense. 

Then my higher brain kicked in and I wrote, “You’re right. I am being grouchy about this and I don’t need to be. I’m sorry.” 

Send.

Done.

I found my way back to emotional adulthood.

I want to say that I felt better right away, but I didn’t. I was still bugged that I’d been “mistreated” and on top of it all, still had to pay a fee I totally disagreed with.

Poor me.

My brain kept trying to sell me on that one. Hard. 

But here’s the truth: I was late with my payment. 

I’d been out of town and there was a snow day and all of my other bills are on autopay… and… and… and…

But at the end of the day, the fact remained that I’d forgotten to pay a bill. The question then became, could I love myself anyway? 

My brain wasn’t sure it was possible to be someone worthy of love and someone who forgot a bill at the same time. The possibility that the late fee meant something terrible about me made the late fee practically unbearable. And then I lost my mind trying to defend myself and explain away my mistake. 

It took me about 20 mins of ranting to apologize to the woman I’d been emailing and about 2 more days to actually fork over the late payment. 

Why? 

Because my brain would rather be right than be at peace. Yours might be the same way. 

When’s the last time you clung to a fight with your husband long past the point where you remembered what you two started arguing over? 

Have you ever missed or spoiled an event because you didn’t want to let some offense go? 

Maybe you’ve compromised closeness in favor of being correct? 

It’s normal if you’ve done any of the above. The brain believes it’s very dangerous to be wrong. But that’s only true if you believe that being wrong means something terrible about you. Which it doesn’t have to. That’s all up to you to decide. 

When I got to the place where forgetting a bill meant I was a  human rather than I was irresponsible or untrustworthy, the need to defend against what I forgot vanished. 

So what if I forget sometimes? I remember a lot of things too. 

So what if I sometimes say unkind things? I can apologize and make amends without turning that unkindness on to myself.

The next time you find yourself digging in your heels, spend a moment figuring out what would happen if you just let go. What if your husband is right that you could be more organized? What if it’s true that you made a selfish choice? 

Can you face your shortcomings and embrace yourself anyway? That’s where confidence builds, Bees. Knowing that you’re great at some things and terrible at others. Knowing you can learn to do more if you want to, but you’re still worthy and valuable and whole if you don’t. 

Try it on this week. I’d love to know how it goes.

Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

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