It used to be that I believed I was a detail oriented person. I would have said it about myself, and trusted it as fact. However, the longer I go about this life, the more I learn that this is not true.
I am a perfectionist. Is that vanity? I hate to be wrong, or to do wrong, or to ‘mess up.’ It fills me with shame, and leaves me fearful of trying again. The thing is, I know that I am not perfect. I know that I make mistakes even more than most people. I know that whatever I do, most people will do it better. Yet I still strive for perfection, and I am still upset with myself when I don’t reach it (which is always.) However, because of this, I am careful. So very careful about the things I do and say.
Perhaps because of this perfectionist ‘dream’, I am also very compulsive. Whether I am given a list of tasks to do, or make up the routine myself, I will repeat the steps over and over in my head – even after I have made them a habit. I will do my absolute best to do those tasks well, and to never forget any part of them. I will push myself even to the point where I will not take a break to eat, or drink, or even hardly breathe. At the end, I will be shaking, and find it hard to stand up, or think at all – but at least I will have completed the task that was set for me.
For those reasons, I was a good employee. Those I worked for liked me, and felt I did the job well. The cost, which they didn’t see, was to myself – to my emotional, mental, and physical health. I would have said my job was hard, and required me to ‘run all the time.’ The thing was, however, that those I worked with – those on the same job as me – sat for quite a lot of their shift (and were therefore calm, and happy with the job.) When I tried that, I was filled with shame as if I were being dishonest, and then pushed myself harder – until I burnt out. I couldn’t work any other way.
So I worked hard, and I pushed myself hard – and while I was working, I did the job well, and hardly ever left anything undone (so much so that my coworkers often complained that I didn’t leave anything for them to do on their shifts.) I did it well, and I burnt myself out, and filled myself with fear and anxiety over missing something, or failing – and I thought it meant that I was detail oriented.
But all it meant was that I was obsessive, compulsive, and perfectionistic – and it wasn’t a good thing. Not for me. Not for others. It set a standard that none of us could reach for long, and since I couldn’t let go, it cost me a lot.
Of course I noticed the mistakes I made – putting down the wrong date (that happens often… what month is it again? What year?) or being called out of my routine, and missing something because of that. But that only meant I needed to try harder. Still detail oriented – just with too much on my mind. It made it hard to think.
After writing this blog for – has it been ten months already!? – I can no longer make the claim that I am a detail oriented person. I write, and I think about how to say what I want to be said, and I even pray over it. I check my spelling, and I consider the pictures and tags (I know I am not good with the tags,) and then I copy and paste, and schedule…
And every once in a while, I will re-read one of my posts… and just about every time I found that I have made a mistake – often writing in the wrong word (read for write, for instance – or the wrong form of their/there/they’re… even though I know the difference, and get caught up/confused whenever someone else uses those words wrong) and then I know… I know!!! That detail oriented isn’t the right label for me.