Perfectionism is a funny thing. On the one hand, if you're trying for perfection, you'll probably end up working hard and creating something pretty great. On the other hand, if you focus too much on an unattainable goal (perfection), it will destroy you. You'll never feel accomplished if you're always working towards something that you can't achieve.
I've always considered myself a "practical perfectionist." I strive for perfection, but I know I'm not going to get there, so I try to be happy with the best I can do. But when I find myself in a new situation (most recently, my new job), sometimes I forget the practical part of it and just try to be perfect (or at least to make everyone around me think I'm perfect), and that's not always a great thing.
One of the hardest parts of starting a new job with entirely new people is that I've felt like I need to impress my coworkers and be "on" all the time. This has led to some pretty severe impostor syndrome, to the point where my teammates have noticed and have spent more time than they should have to reassuring me that this is normal and I do belong. I also feel like I need to "prove" my knowledge, so I have started speaking up in meetings, which can be good when I have knowledge to contribute, but I've also gone overboard a few times. A few weeks ago, I decided to give a presentation in a meeting, and while it was a topic that is important, in the weeks since the presentation, I haven't really felt comfortable acting on the knowledge that was shared in that presentation (in fact, when someone referenced the topic of that presentation recently in reference to a problem they were experiencing, I felt bad about having never acted on the presentation and it actually had a very negative effect on my day), which makes me wonder if I really was prepared to give that presentation. I've also had a few situations (including one last week) where I raised a concern based on the conversation, but I was more focused on being heard than on making sure my words were being said with the appropriate amount of context, which made it seem like I was attacking the topic of the conversation instead of raising a valid concern. While it's a good thing that my team has made me feel comfortable enough that I can speak up in meetings, and it is important for me to participate in meetings, but I should be doing it because I have something to say, not because I think I need to impress someone.
Since starting the job, I've also felt like I need to get my life outside of work "back to perfect" (not that it ever really was perfect). I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of last year that I would do my best to post a new blog once a week, and while I do enjoy sharing my experiences, it takes time to write and proofread a post, and I don't always have that time (and honestly, I don't always have a great topic to write about). I've also committed to writing more technical blogs this year, and while I have found that I enjoy reinforcing my technical knowledge through writing, that's also a time commitment. Outside of writing, I'm also trying to adjust my workout routine to a point where it makes me happy (marathon training just didn't do that for me, so while I'm still running, I'm also trying new workout options), and I'm excited to be taking advantage of the ClassPass discount I get through work. In the spirit of improving my overall health and well-being, I'm also trying to do more cooking and meal prep, which has been an adjustment because it involves a lot of advance thought and planning. While all of these are great aspirations and I'm glad I've decided to take them on, they all take time and energy, and doing them all at once is too much.
Over the last few weeks, I've realized that I need to consider cutting back on my commitments. I may want to do it all, but I don't have time for that. There's no good reason for me to risk burnout because I took on too much responsibility. I need to decide what's most important to me - both at work and in life - and focus on that. I know I'll feel better if I focus on doing one or two things well instead of stressing myself out trying (and failing) to do it all. And even if I can't be perfect at that smaller amount of things ... that's okay. I'm actually doing decently well at adjusting to my new surroundings and juggling some of my many commitments, and I need to keep reminding myself of that. I'm not perfect. But nobody is perfect, and if it seems like someone is, that just means you don't know what's going on with them behind the scenes. The most I can ever ask of myself is to do the best I can every day. Some days that will mean I hit all of my goals perfectly. Most days it won't. There will be some days when showing up in the office and writing a few lines of code is the most I can do. That doesn't matter, as long as I realize that not every day will be a victory.
I'm not perfect. I never will be. I know I still have a lot of work to do coming to terms with that, but that's okay. Life is a process, and as long as I'm doing the best I can, I'm as perfect as I need to be.