Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This isn't working

Admitting that an endeavor you've embarked on is not working is not easy for a perfectionist. The difficulty of admitting this may be a close relative to the trait of not being able to admit you're wrong. This is just occurring to me as I write this.

Today was a day in which I was forced to grapple with the realization that a job I took on was just not working out. And realizing this did not go well. Though, if asked whether said endeavor was working out by any old person, I would have admitted that, no, it really wasn't. But when presented with this notion by the person with whom I'd embarked on this endeavor, I was not happy to hear this.

Now, I know this thing wasn't working out. (I haven't yet decided whether I want to reveal what this "thing" is, so for now, it will be called, "Thing.") But, to be told by the person who was counting on it working out that it was not, I found myself indignant and upset.

There are a number of reasons for my upset reaction to this, but they all fall under the one umbrella of, "I'm a perfectionist." Sigh.

You see, I'm the go-to girl. At work, anyway. I'm the girl at work whom you seek out when you have something that needs to be done -- done right, done quickly, and done, well, perfectly. This has sort of become my identity, I'm realizing, and when I do something outside of work and it doesn't turn out this way, I get, well, mad.

And then I get analytical. "Why didn't this go well?" I wonder. "Were the conditions such that it even had a shot in hell of going well? Why, no! They weren't! Ah ha, that's what happened. Poor conditions. It's not me. It's ... the conditions."

This makes me feel better for a moment. But then that moment is gone, and I need to ensure that it's not just me who feels this way, and I start asking questions in hopes of getting the same reassuring answer.

Those reassuring answers would sound something like: "Oh, no. There's no way you could've done that well with all of the responsibilities you have a work. Come on! You just didn't have the time."

Or: "Your job is so stressful. You need time to unwind from that. You couldn't just go home and then start working all over again after a nine-hour day!"

But despite all of these logical notions that should make me feel better about giving up the "thing," I just can't feel good about it. I don't like giving up.

"What could I have done differently?" I wonder. "Why don't I have endless stores of energy like so-and-so?!"

And hence the battle commences. My indignant self against my guilty self.

This battle happens inside my mind a lot. But today, something changed for a moment and I tried to cling onto it: I saw it happening, and I said, "Screw this crazy thinking and beating myself up. This is dumb."

And so I'm writing this post to air out this nutty internal dialogue, to free myself from the chains of the endless circle in which my over-thinking entangles me. And I'm coming to this conclusion: So it didn't work out ... so what? I'm obviously not meant for that "thing."

(And then ... I'm being really honest with myself, and am really closing the chapter on this by thinking, in the way-back of my mind, "I was too good for that thing. I just don't have time for that kind of nonsense. I have bigger fish to fry." And to that thought I give myself a pat on the back and say, "Hey, whatever gets you through the day.")