I am always trying my best, and I always try to please everyone, and I always try to be as good and fair as possible. That’s why I don’t take criticism well, because I am trying my absolute hardest already and someone is saying it’s not good enough. People are always saying that my standards are too high and that I am too hard on myself. But people seem to expect so much of me, and are ready to be hard on me if I don’t do what they want, so what am I supposed to do?
I have a new job and a new manager, and at my first appraisal this week she told me that I am always pushing myself to do more and to do better. I guess I knew that already, but I didn’t realise that it was unusual or notable enough to be mentioned in an appraisal. I suppose I thought that everybody does the same and it was pretty much part of life. It’s not perfectionism, as I am more than happy with a job that is ‘good enough’, provided that it is my best effort. I am aware that my approach to myself can be problematic when I apply it to others. With high expectations, clear rules about fairness, and constant striving for self-improvement, I imagine that I am easy to disappoint.
From a distance I appear fluid, but up close I am inflexible, in part due to running at full capacity already. Push me too much and I break; I’m like an iced-up pond. No I can’t do that small, seemingly innocuous, favour for you that would make your life easier, not because I am unreasonable, don’t care, or don’t want to help (trust me my desire to help rules my life); it is because I can’t do any more than I am doing right now. I would have to leave something else in order to accommodate you, which would have knock on effects, and the time it would take me to prioritise and evaluate what I could stop with minimal consequences, is itself time I don’t even have.
If you’d asked me a week ago, it might have been ok. But in this moment I am the person who took an over-stuffed suitcase on holiday, and with only 10 minutes before the flight home, finds that they forgot to leave room for souvenirs, and has to leave behind some other needed thing in order to make room. What you see as ‘free time’, a luxury or something to be filled with people and activity, is in fact processing and preparation time, a necessity for me to manage my daily living, and something I need to do alone.
The values I look for in a friend include integrity, honesty, predictability, acceptance, and a sense of fairness and justice similar to my own. The things that hurt me the most are disloyalty, moving goalposts, irrationality, lack of trust, and seemingly unfair criticism of my genuine actions and efforts. You get the best out of me when you realise (and perhaps acknowledge) that you know that is what you are getting, at all times. I don’t do halves.
© Catastraspie, 2013.