Professional Perfectionist – By @nclrolly
I thought I knew how not to be a perfectionist, but recent reflections tell me I haven’t.
Yesterday, the theme for reflections is reframe a negative thought into a positive one. As an introspective person, who quick like the French philosopher, Montaigne’s thoughts, I analyse myself on quite a regular basis.
To have a perfect student live and stay out of trouble, I avoided student parties or left really early as I heard things can get messy after some point. When working in a research consultancy, I maintained the image of a good girl: a person who never smokes cuz it looks bad. I was also super cautious when writing emails, especially external ones; I check them with my colleagues quite often to make sure I didn’t mess the grammar or tone up. I am pretty witty and quick when I speak in my mother tongue, but in English, I choose to stay silent if I can’t find the right phrases to express my dark humour and wit.
In SCA, especially when I worked as a single, I overthink and second guess my work, often leading me not speaking to mentors. ‘Why do I want to share?’ ‘I need to do more research.’ ‘It looks so ugly.’ ‘I haven’t done enough iterations.’ … Sometimes, I don’t even start the work because I was sure it would be done badly.
Doing some self-learning in my one-week break, I stumbled upon a course on creative confidence, it gave me many tools to deal with perfectionism. And here’s what I learnt:
1)Using another lens, perfectionism = I don’t even finish the work.
Sometimes, the P word can be reframed to fear of failure, it makes me consider all the holes in my work, in the end, the work looks too disgusting that I have no love for it anymore, I give up. At some point, I have many drafted emails in Notes, ‘Maybe I should wait till I have a break to sit down properly, have the right mindset, and write that email again in the right tone.’ ‘I sound a bit too demanding with those words.’ ‘This doesn’t sound professional.’ Frankly, perfectionism can be seen as failure, because I couldn’t see the work through.
2) Put the red hat on.
I write down my worries once I realised I am panicking. ‘They will say the poster looks shit.’ ‘He would say the strategy is not tight enough.’ ‘She’d probably say this line is interesting but not good enough.’ Then, I do some fact-checking to see if these worries are really worth of my brain space. Can I reframe them in a positive way? For example, ‘she can help me make the line better’ or ‘he will tell me why the strategy is not tight enough’
3) ‘I am going to __________ really badly.’
I didn’t have much confidence in art directing. Sometimes, the fact that I don’t have a background in graphic design force me to compare myself to other talents in the school. To take the pressure off, and go into playful child mode quickly, I tell myself, before I scamp, ‘I am going to scamp really badly.’
4) Talk like I’m talking to 8 years old Rolly.
I am always learning, and there’s definitely space fo fail. At least I tried. If I imagine talking to an 8-year-old, I’d be more encouraging, more acknowledging towards her efforts. I wouldn’t use harsh words. That doesn’t change when I’m 23, as long as I am learning. The poster on top echoes this.