It’s Been a While…

Perfectionism… not a good state to be in.

This goes double when you’re in your first six months of your first job out of college as a software developer.

My first few projects were good. I mean, I messed up a few times, but when you’ve only been at work a month and don’t really know your team’s system, it’s more or less to be expected.

I think I got a little complacent.

My latest project, which I’ve been working on for… about 2 months now, is admittedly rather bigger than what I’d worked on before. I’m being handed more responsibility, as you are when you’ve been at it a little while.

Lately, not a day goes by when I’m not sitting on the bus thinking about what I screwed up today, or lying in bed having weird-ass dreams about what I’m working on (and subsequently waking up feeling really confused), or just being generally anxious. (That started manifesting physically at one point. Boy, was that fun…) It’s not a good thing, and it hit a peak about two weeks ago. Not coincidentally, I was working between 50 and 60 hours a week, checking my email at home, and generally feeling that any waking moment I wasn’t working was being ill-spent. Since then, I’ve tried to cut it down to 50 hours a week at the absolute maximum and generally hitting roughly the 45-hour mark, and it’s done me a world of good.

I’m much less stressed and anxious than I was. I’m not checking my work email from my phone so much. (I do check if the message count hits 40 or so in 12 hours because that generally means that something’s going down.) Just taking the time to be able to breathe helps.

But things haven’t gone so well this week. They were going okay for a while… until I found out this morning that I didn’t have a complete picture of what I needed to do to make something work. As a result, I caused more delays in what seems like an endless series of them. Thankfully, this part of the project has more or less come to an end, but there’s still a lot of work to go on the second part of it.

I had my weekly meeting with my manager (not on probation or anything—it’s something we just do as a matter of course) today, and received some good news: someone apparently went out of their way to let her know that I’ve been very helpful and just good to work with. Honestly, I’ve worked to deserve that praise. I know it’s true. And yet, because this project I’m on is going to hell mostly—but not entirely—on my account (or at least that’s how it feels), I feel like I don’t deserve praise. And it’s kind of tearing me up.

Again, I know it’s not untrue praise—it’s definitely true. But I’m exceedingly good at doing the whole “pity, party of one!” thing. Thankfully, I have a good manager who is coaching me out of my mentality of my only options being perfection or failure. I mean, yes, it’s good to get things right, and to get them right the first time. But there’s more than one way to do it right, and I actually have more freedom than I did in college to determine my deadlines. It’s something I’m still getting used to, and I’m still getting used to estimate how long a project will take. But beating myself up mentally for every little thing that goes wrong isn’t going to help. I learn from it, but not as quickly as I could if I could detach some emotional (dis-)satisfaction from my performance.

It’s a challenge I know I can rise to, but the climb is going to be more difficult for the tumble my self-esteem has taken.

I don’t really want to hear that I’m good enough. I really don’t want to hear that I’m perfect already. (I’m human and, ergo, imperfect. I’m okay with this.) What I want to hear is myself saying “I did this, and I did it right.” I want encouragement (and I’m getting it, which is nice). Above all, I want to make myself feel better.

I know I’ll get there. I’ll be fine. And I’m trying not to be impatient with myself while I get there, but I just need to vent sometimes.

It’s not the greatest “back from the void” post, I know, but it’s been therapeutic. It’s something I needed.

And anyway, with Christmas around the corner (eeeeeeeeek!), I’m sure I’ll have wonderful, exciting things (like baking ALL the cookies!) to blog about then.

Until then you’ll hear about more mundane things, like how I’m going to the grocery store to get more bread. Wheeee…

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