The Burden of Perfectionism

My midterm today did not go as well as I had hoped. There were three main questions. The first two took me five minutes; I could do them without thinking. I spent forty-five minutes on the last question, and I still couldn’t figure out the answer.

I wasn’t the only person stumped by the question. No one finished early. The entire class was still sitting when time was called. But whether my classmates got the question or not is irrelevant to how I’m feeling right now.

I am definitely a perfectionist when it comes to my schoolwork. I don’t know when I started having such high standards for myself. I certainly didn’t have these standards during graduate school for math (not to this extent at least). I’m annoyed and disappointed that I wasn’t able to figure out the exam problem. Considering my background and my level of understanding of the material, I expected far more from myself.

The most frustrating thing about this exam is that my score won’t separate me from anyone else in the class. It won’t show that I can explain everything in the lecture notes to other students. It won’t show that I correct the TA at least once per discussion section.

It doesn’t help that everyone else has such high expectations of me. I’ve become the standard answer upon which many of my classmates check their homework. They assume I’ll get a perfect on every exam. It makes any mistake I make stand out that much more.

The stress from this term is driving me crazy.


A Little Off

I think I need a break. For the past week or so, I’ve noticed that I get antsy for my classes to end. I can’t concentrate during class, and I’m constantly looking at my watch. I’m procrastinating much more than usual, and I have a difficult time focusing on homework.

I also haven’t been sleeping very well. I haven’t been able to sleep earlier than 1:30am, when I usually try to sleep closer to midnight.

I used to play the same albums on repeat for weeks, but lately I’ve been sick of all the music on my iPod (not just the ones I usually listen to). I can’t stay on a single song these days without changing it halfway through.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but I feel a little off. Maybe I’m depressed? Moody? Stressed? All of the above?

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Week After Holiday

The week after a holiday is always difficult. My long weekends are never restful, and I inevitably sleep less than usual weekends. As a result, I haven’t been sleeping very well the last few days. I started feeling a scratch in my throat yesterday, and it’s a bit more sore today. I’m sure it will be worse before it gets better.

My last midterm of the term is tomorrow afternoon, but I can’t seem to concentrate while I study for it. I keep making small arithmetic mistakes. I usually don’t like to study the day of an exam (I like to have a clear mind), but I might have to make an exception so I can rest tonight. I won’t be getting much studying done tonight anyway.

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Times are tough for my company. Since I’m in charge of accounts receivable (the inflow of money owed to us), there is tremendous pressure on me to collect on unpaid past due (and sometimes not quite due) invoices. I’ve been trying to do a good job, but my big boss is getting stressed out by invoices that are even one day past due.

Today, my big boss called an impromptu accounting meeting, the majority of which was stressing how important it is to collect and explicitly showing how frustrated he is by my performance. Less than five minutes after the meeting, he sent me a strongly worded email saying how important my responsibility is to the company and that I need to be more proactive. He also said my job is very difficult, which tells me that my lack of results is all that much more disappointing. I’m paraphrasing the email (I don’t have it in front of me), but I was freaking out for the rest of the day. I really felt like I was going to get fired.

I talked to my old boss/friend about it after work, and he helped to calm me down a little. He knows that I have communication issues with my boss, but I should still ask for help when I need it. My boss is still there to help me (it’s just business, after all). He also said “if you can’t change others, change yourself,” which is an interesting thing to consider.

After I got home, my old work crush called me to see if I was okay. I hadn’t talked to him at all about what happened today. He said he knew that I’m under a lot of pressure right now, but he wanted to remind me that the reason why my bosses give me so much pressure is because they know I can handle it. They expect more out of me. If they didn’t expect so much, they wouldn’t be as demanding. This was a common topic when I was still in sales (since my old boss/friend had very high expectations of me and therefore yelled at me more than his whole sales team combined now), but I often lose sight of that fact these days. His minute-long phone call with me was short but encouraging.

I’m still freaking out a little bit, but talking to my two good friends at work helped a lot. I’m pretty sure tomorrow is not going to be a picnic, but at least I’m not as discouraged as I was initially.

I’ve been watching episodes of I Love Lucy tonight (Season Five, when she goes to Europe) to relax. Lucy is so funny.

One Of Those Days

Today was one of those days where I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I felt off the whole day. I left work early (well, 7:30pm is earlier than usual) to try and relax at home, but I still feel anxious.

It didn’t help that I made a mistake at work toward the end of last week that just caught up to me today. I felt like my boss was mad at me all day. I’m thinking it’s because she got in trouble from her boss for my mistake, but I don’t know for sure. The mistake isn’t irreparable, but I really should know better by now. I hate making mistakes like that. My boss barely said two words to me today, which is noticeably different from our usual many conversations over our shared cubicle wall.

In other news, I had an envelope waiting for me when I got home that was from the US Department of the Treasury. Apparently I qualified for the recovery rebate credit (and I didn’t know about it when I filed my taxes a few weeks ago), so I got a nice bonus check! My day still feels crappy, but at least I’m a few hundred dollars richer.

Out Of Stock

This week has been quite a struggle. The beginning of the week was rough, and today wasn’t great either. Because I didn’t watch one of my client’s inventory closely enough (I was watching, but I thought things would be resolved today), they’re going to be out of stock on two of our most popular items over the weekend. This is going to be a huge blow to my sales.

As a last-ditch effort to fix the problem, my warehouse, production, and shipping teams all helped me get ready to deliver the items to my client’s warehouse 60 miles away. I left in the early afternoon. Without traffic, it should have taken an hour. Unfortunately, given a Friday afternoon in LA, the traffic was ridiculously bad. It took over two hours to get to the warehouse, at which time the warehouse manager refused to receive our packages (they close their receiving department early). I had no choice but to turn around and go back to the office. It took over an hour and a half to get back.

My delivery attempt ended up being a large waste of energy, time, and money. When I got back to the office, my boss didn’t get mad at me; after all, it wasn’t my fault that the traffic was so bad. I stayed in the office for another two hours before going home (it was around 8pm when I left).

It was only as I was driving home that my boss called and yelled at me for not watching the inventory closely enough. I should have communicated to him that there was an inventory problem earlier so that it wouldn’t have to come to a last minute effort. The fact that we tried to fix the problem is fine, but the fact that there was a problem to fix is my fault.

Anyway. It was a long day and a long week, neither of which ended well.

Rough First Day Back

After such a nice vacation, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my first day back at work would be hard to get through. Even still, today was really rough. I feel like I kept making mistakes all day. My boss even yelled at me for one of them. My boss rarely ever yells at me anymore. Not only that, but I made my coworker friend/crush’s day really stressful because of my indecision and subsequent bad decision.

What’s worse, I might be coming down with something. I felt a bit hot and cold in the morning, almost like I had a slight fever. It got a little better after lunch, but then my back started hurting a lot. By the end of the day, my back was very uncomfortable. I had to lay down on my bed as soon as I got home.

I really hope tomorrow is better.