Anaín Bjorkquist

the mask of: perfectionism

I once was a very secure and extremely confident woman; that was when I worked in the operating room as a surgical technician. I knew my job and nobody could tell me otherwise because some of the hardest-to-work-with-couldn’t-tolerate-anyone surgeons requested me to be the one in on cases. I could go from working on the most urgent complicated abdominal aortic aneurysm to the simplest Urology case. People respected me but most importantly I respected myself. I was so secure in my abilities that I was pretty damn near perfect at my job.

I worked the shifts that many other people didn’t want or feared like overnight weekends. People didn’t want and feared the overnight weekend shifts because any case could walk in the door and there was nobody else in house to back you up. Technicians with less experience or those less secure about their skills would comment about how happy they were that I liked such a shitty shift because they no longer had to worry about it popping up on their schedules. Others would tell me that they didn’t like doing that shift because it always seemed like you had to make do forging through cases while the scheduled cases during regular hours were more ideal circumstances to operate under because everything you needed would be there. No making do.

Where am I going with this? I once was a very secure and extremely confident woman then I started learning and doing things that were new and completely different from anything I had ever done before. I always dreamed and thought as a child I would be one of three things a dancer for Alvin Ailey, a surgeon or a famous author. Working in the operating room as a technician while I was in school to finish my degree wasn’t far off from my dreams and expectations for myself. That was then but suddenly I wasn’t that anymore I was a stay-at-home mom trying to find something to do to make money to find some worth in myself again. That’s when I started doing web development.

I taught myself. I learned so damn quickly. I got coding like it was some language that I had always secretly known. I also got how the internet worked when it came to building brands. I could have been great but I was just too insecure to let myself be great. For a minute I took the easy route of designing MySpace pages instead of the dozens of pay sites for models that I was being asked to build. I told myself that I didn’t like building those sites because models would often quit. I spent a lot of time charging less than I deserved and did way too much free work. Why? Not because I was bad but because I was insecure. I was very insecure about my skills…

…Yet, I had almost everyone fooled with the mask of perfectionism I wore. All but my two closest friends thought I was a huge perfectionist that didn’t want to work with anyone or on anything that I didn’t think would be the ideal project. Yup. I had them fooled while I secretly wondered if I was getting as good as I knew I was. I had them all thinking that I didn’t want to take the workload being offered to me because they weren’t “serious” clients but it was a lie. I wanted to take on the clients, I wanted to grow my business, I wanted to prove to myself that I was good at what I did and could be great; but I was too insecure.

I didn’t suffer from a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable. I wore the mask of perfectionism to hide the lack of assurance that was written all over my face. I was afraid but I masked my fear very well. I didn’t talk to anyone about what was really bothering me so I just pretended that if it couldn’t be perfect I didn’t even want it.

What I’ve learned:

  • There are things that I am a perfectionist about. I usually don’t want to quit until I do these things to the best of my ability. All these things that I strive for perfection in I am pretty good and also confident about performing them.
  • The things that I am not confident about I don’t usually do them very often because I am afraid of not doing them very well. I might talk about them a lot and I might want to be great at them but I usually don’t even begin to try to accomplish them.
  • The enemy of good is great…but that is a lesson in itself that I will save for another day. =)

Are you a perfectionist or are you just really hiding behind that mask because you are afraid to perform?

© Anaín Bjorkquist September 1, 2011 ~ All Rights Reserved.

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