S4 E20 - 3:24:22, 11.49 AM
3:55PM Mar 24, 2022
Lee Skallerup Bessette
everyone welcome to another episode of our podcast, all the things ADHD, all the all the all the other things to jazz hands with that even though you can't see it because it's a podcast. But apparently it's a good thing to talk with your hands. I just learned that it's at the conference. Well, that's good. That's good.
Multimodal expression lead. Yeah.
It apparently helps with complex, like explaining complex concepts or ideas or trying to figure things out that it helps to talk with your hands. Huh? Is that like,
you know, that middle school thing about like, try to describe a spiral without using your hands, right? Yeah. Like, no, there's really no way and then people like start spinning their heads around. Yeah. Linda Blair, in The Exorcist style to explain this file. It's kind of like, yeah, right, because explaining a spiral with a gesture is
difficult goes around and down,
goes around a demo around it not yet. around and down is good, but you're very gifted with language that we say it's Yeah,
I have all the words. Um, I I'm one of your co hosts, Lee Skallerup Bessette.
And I'm the other one of your co hosts, Amy Morrison. Amy hope Morrison this week, because my spring crazies have resolved into my spring I got this. So that's good. That's good.
Mm hmm. It's good. Last week's episode seemed to really resonate with people.
Yeah, yeah. Turns out a lot of people went through the the journey with us that we went on where we both you and I discovered things about ourselves. discussing our owns Greenspring crazies in ways that we didn't connect all the dots until we got to speak with each other. It seems like a lot of listeners were connecting those dots too. And of course, we recorded that a couple of weeks ago, and I had joked on the podcast itself that I was going to, you know, follow me on Twitter, and did you want on Twitter, and I will be posting all of my crazy spring cleaning images, which I of course, completely forgot that I said, and then it turns out, I was in fact posting crazy spring cleaning images on my Twitter. Yeah, deep dive into like, things are not just going to be clean, they are going to be cleaner than even when I purchased them. And I will research the most effective means of achieving that level of cleanliness. And then I will forget to buy groceries. So yeah, and forget to eat and forget to eat. Yeah, forget to start the dishwasher, or the washing machine and all the rest of it. Yeah.
So I get to work like that when I was teaching and I'd like I get into those and I'd be like, Oh, shit, I gotta go teach.
Teach. Yeah, that's like always say, like, I need those. Those cues in the environment, right, the structure versus the environment. So like, I only know the department meeting is about to start even though I went to campus expressly for the department meeting only notice when all of the faculty members in my department walk past my door. Like where are they? Oh, meeting right now? Yeah, where I'm supposed to same thing when like students Yeah, exactly. When students like when the the classes let out before my class like suddenly gets a lot noisier in the hallway like oh, yeah, right. I have to go teach now. Like how you can be like, right there. And still, like yes, class yet when you're 10 feet away from him? Yes. Oh, yeah. track of time. Yep. Yeah. Always. So today, we, what are we talking about?
Perfectionism. Perfectionism the drive to be as perfect as possible.
Mm hmm. Have you suffered from perfectionism in your life? Do you suffer from it now?
See, I was thinking about this and I am Miss good enough. Right? You know, this I missed good enough. Um, and yeah, so it but again, like, there are times I always thinking about so much perfectionism, but like stubbornly refusing to give up in order to just even accomplish something. So like, there was a, there was a time when I was up at the cabin. And maybe I've told the story before, I don't know. But we were up at our cabin or lake house, the lake as we called it, and I wanted to do a front flip off the end of the dock. And I was like, I just was like, You know what, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do a front flip off of the dock. And I did front flips off that dock for hours. And I couldn't get straight. Like I couldn't finish it straight. I would only ever land in a seated position on the water. Right. And
in kind of a lake bidet effect, they're
essentially well, so here is what happened. We were actually going home that afternoon. And I was like, I was determined to do this before we left. You know, like, this was my goal. I don't know well, how I came up with it, or why I decided that weekend. I was never really interested in trying to complete a flip in any other occasion. But that day, I was like, I'm gonna do a freakin flip and My brother had brought his friend with us. And he came out to get me to go in and get changed and pack and get in the car. And he looks at me and goes, Oh, you need to stop. And I'm like, What do you mean? And he goes, look at your legs. And I've been doing it so much that I had bruised the backs of both my thighs sure severely like they it wasn't even read it was already into like the deep purple. And, and I just I was numb to it at that point between the cold water and like all of that. And I just like I didn't even feel the pain. And and then I had to write
this is our classic story A the scene of most of our foundational traumas you and I seem to take place at Lake houses, I fell in a hole I push my sister off a dock you've like bruised your thighs trying to master I fell off
the dock at one point that I did step back and ended up in the rock.
Yeah, right. Sometimes there's no dock left anymore when you put your foot down. Yeah, this is a classic ADHD story, we had no interest in performing this maneuver, ever, until you suddenly had a very strong interest in performing this maneuver, did not succeed at it and figured that through sheer force of will and repetition, your utter lack of skill and technique would somehow resolve itself. Yeah, right. And then continue, I just tried a little harder, just tried a little harder to the point of injury where you have done this long enough that your bruises are beginning to mature before somebody else has to point out to you that you are injured because you somehow missed your own pain cues or decided they're not important enough to pay attention to like this hits. Like all the buttons though, like there is a bit of a desire to be be perfect there. Right? A desire to like, for once in my life. I'm going to conquer this thing. This shouldn't be hard. I'm going to do it. And I like if I can't do it. I'm just gonna try harder. And I'm not gonna stop until I get it or yeah, that's, that's one flavor of perfectionism. Like, I didn't care about this until right now. I care about this more than anything in the whole world. And I will deny myself everything until I mastered this and no, don't give me advice.
Yep. Oh, don't give me advice. Right. Don't tell me I can't adult for God. Don't tell me I can't do it.
That's right. Just leave me alone. Right as my husband has a little bit of this. And then he says, Amy, I'm going to keep doing it until the problem is solved or something gets broken. And maybe it's me. Okay. Yeah. Fair. Good. Yeah. Which sounds a little bit like your ethic. Yeah.
It's fair, but also weird, but like, are like Welcome to neuro divergence. Right, right.
Yeah, this one is being able to name your dysfunction quite yet, specifically, right? This is not healthy, but I cannot stop. Yeah, and maybe it will work out. But really, it's not because this is a good technique, it's just yeah, will be through sheer force of will. Yeah, so we have a desire sometimes to complete things or master things where we are in no way qualified to do that, and can be resistant to aid of any sort. Probably owing to the way that many of us feel we don't deserve to have other people help us. Because what we are trying to prove, in fact, is that we deserve good things, or that we are good people that we can do stuff that regular people can do and in our sort of broken little brains as children to get neurotypical help with those tasks would defeat the purpose of mastering them, which is you should be able to do it.
But there's also that that frustration, I think, that comes up with neurotypical trying to explain something to someone who's neurodivergent and then just getting frustrated. Yeah, both sides getting frustrated, because I don't understand what you're saying. And they don't understand that I don't understand what they're saying. Right? Like, just do this. I was like, isn't that what I'm doing? No, that's not what you're doing. Do this? Well, I don't understand what this means. Like, well, you just do this. And you're just like, and so you're like, this is such a waste of time. And everybody is mad at everyone else. Yeah. You know, this is math homework at my house on a regular basis. Yeah, but but the but there is also that, that layer of frustration too, right. I want to do it on my own. But I've also learned that other people can't help me and get annoyed about it. So to freeze it, so
not only have anyone Yeah, at the end of that, at the end of that you still don't know how to do the task, and everybody is mad at you.
Yeah. And you're mad at everyone and celebrated. Yeah,
that's right. Yeah. Yeah. That's good. Yeah, so that's, I indulge in that a little bit. I tend a little bit more in the other direction. That's surprising. No one we my experience is different from yours. I learned early that there were some things that I could do better than other people. And that that was my source of value in the world because they could do everything better than me except one or two things, most of which were school related. And so it was important that I maintain gain whatever tiny toehold into the social universe that I could claim from this one tiny piece of me that anybody ever seemed to give me praise for, which made me a little bit hyper vigilant about my performance in academic areas, right. Which meant I was like, over scrutinizing myself and which meant whenever I was nervous about anything, I would double down on trying to be perfect at school stuff, right. But the thing is, like, getting through all the third grade readers faster than other children will not make you less lonely, right. But this kind of belief that if you could do it perfectly, you you would finally fit in would be less lonely, sometimes leads us into doubling down on the strategy that's not working. And for some of that is, some of us that is overcompensating with performance in certain areas. And that could be an area where you have a lot of strength. Like for me, it was academics, or it could be perfectionism in areas where you have have weaknesses like so for example, as a parent, I would say, I'm not like your sort of Pinterest, Mommy, I don't much enjoy the campaign of babies. Like I don't find babies interesting. I find hanging out with you loves babies. I mean, I love to hold them in them, and put them to sleep. I had like remarkable baby soothing skills, but like to spend eight hours a day when my husband was at work. Oh, it's like our home was just, honestly was torture. Yeah, for me, I'm not suited to that. But of course, I know, I had a lot of shame about my lack of maternal instincts. So in this area that I was not good at, I also tried to be perfect, right? I thought Why should disguise my my total lack of capacity here by by trying to figure out what a perfect mom would look like, and be that person. And I would say probably even among neurotypical people, this kind of high stakes area where it feels like the rules are a bit a morphus. And the potential for failure is very high. Like being a mom, for example, is that we tend to double down on perfectionism as if somebody is going to give us a triple a plus and a gold star on it, and we will be able to stop worrying about it at that point. But like, there is no way to be perfect at parenting. So yeah, I think most people when they get quite anxious about something will attempt to be perfect at it to insulate themselves from, from psychological or interpersonal harm. And that might be about things that you're good at. And it might be about things that you're not good at. But perfectionism is insidious. I think particularly among quote unquote, high functioning late diagnosed ADHD, women, right with a duck, where it's like, it's very smooth on the surface, which disguises the furious, paddling underneath. And it seems that
when you paddle I'm making paddle motions with my hand paddle motions. Yeah.
And that, that we often feel quite insecure in our professional statuses and in our relationship statuses and we may really lean into a desire to be perfect in order to gain some control and security. In those areas where we we feel less supported, and that it's often we think, that that's the right way to go. Yeah, but who could, like we were talking about last week, who says you have too much energy, right? And hustle culture, like, having more energy is is great. Like, what do you mean, that's a problem? So like, I think sometimes we tend to valorize perfect attention to detail, attention to detail, attention to detail, right? Detail. Yeah. And perfectionism as like aiming for high standards, but like, paradoxically, perfectionism is one of the main components that animates procrastination. Did you know that? Yes, I didn't. Tell me about that.
Well, so. So it's really interesting. Um, well, because if you don't think you can do it perfectly, then why do it at all? That's right. Right, all or nothing more, I'm going to or I am going to stress about all of the ways that this can go wrong. And not be perfect. That's right. Um, you know, it's funny, so my, like, I'm even thinking about that with my two kids. Right? Where my daughter would was the crashing into things, right? Like she would just do it and do it and do it and do it and do it until she got it. Right. And with kids that like especially little I'm talking about learning to walk and you know, motor skills and all that kind of stuff. And, you know, you're like, yeah, they they're good to go and you'll help Laura then she always rejected help to even at that age. She was always doing stuff on our own like she did not the minute she didn't need help anymore. She was like, get the hell away from me just like so.
Mister. I do have that. I do. Yeah, I myself.
Yep. Oh, yeah. No, to this day. I
mean, to this day, I do. Yeah,
I will not. I said her the other day. I said, I said, Honey, I said I understand that you don't want to me to take care of you and that you won't let me take care of you. But I said, please start doing a better job of doing it yourself learn. Yeah, because this is not sustainable at the moment. But anyways, so she was always crashing into things and going and going, whereas my son would only ever start doing something until he knew he could do it perfectly. Oh, that's interesting. Yeah. Like until he was until he was sure he could walk. Yeah, you didn't even want to practice it.
Yeah, I guess,
until he was, he was crawling until he was sure he could. Well, there's also the fact that he just out of spite stop talking for six months, but it was like it was almost it was, it was, but it was also like, now I can also form full sentences. And so like, I took a six month break, to really learn how to talk and now I'm not gonna, you know, but always like he, he doesn't, he does not like, like, my daughter will try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and fail. She doesn't. I mean, she doesn't enjoy it. But like, that's her way of doing it. Him. On the other hand, he hates trying and failing. But he's not going to try something until he is reasonably confident that it is going to be at a maybe not perfect level, but like, at a certain level,
right? He's not going to be in the awkward beginner stages in front of other people. Yeah, like that has been my mode. So probably Cassie is more in your mode. And Leo is more in my mode. And I will say it's quite limiting. When you consider your entire value proposition as a human being to be that you're good at stuff, it becomes very risky, to allow others to witness you not being good at stuff, right. But it's very difficult to be perfect at everything. And it's very difficult to learn to get to that stage without, you know, stopping talking for six months or, you know, without like doing it the hard way, right. You're just like, I'm going to disguise my learner status. I mean, I think this is kind of endemic to new teachers as well. I think we see this a lot among grad students when they get their first sort of Soulcharge teaching with junior professors as well, who like they like bleed out all their red pens, because they got a circle every single comma splice, and they have to, like, Let every student know like, the exact 100% extent of every single error that's in the paper, because that's how they will show that they are a perfect teacher, right? Like, and they won't ask for help about it sometimes because they're afraid that if someone hears them ask a question about teaching, that they'll know that they're not an expert teacher yet. But like, of course, you're not everybody goes through these beginner stages. And sometimes these things that you do in a bid to to be perfect, have costs associated with them that are not repaid by what you get by pretending to be just naturally perfect at everything. And in fact, it can make you quite brittle. It has made me quite brittle. As a person I've been so afraid of failing at things that I will not do things I'm not already good at has been in general my mode in life, which has limited my opportunities to have adventures and do new things and do fun things and to realize, like not everything is a competition where I have to be the best because if you can imagine if, like, that's the way you're going through life, this is not going to help you make more friends, right? If you turn everything into some kind of competition, where I'm going to like, I'm going to like order the coffee most perfectly, right? Because I know all the right words to use and and what
Cassie is like that too, though. Like, that's also how she is where it's like, Ha everything has to be you know, exactly perfect, right? Like and and she's always also been very competitive in that sense, where she has to be the best in her dance class. And she has to be, you know, getting she's a little bit better with grades on that. But it used to be she had to get like the highest standardized test score. And, you know, and I was like, and, you know, I think Sandra says her bunk and I'm just like, why? Who cares? And she's like, she cares very deeply, she would get offended when you did not care as deeply about these things as she does. Whereas my son is like being so I so I was good at two things. Swimming, you know, and writing, but even writing I also good at situps Yes, I was good at situps I was very good at situps I was not good at pull ups. I had zero upper body strength I used to get made fun of all the time for my lack of upper body strength. Um, I'd really strongly exited leg press the entire machine and someone leaning on it back in the day, but But part of that is as well like for me. Like I was good. I don't I didn't know if I was good at writing or not. I just knew I enjoyed it. Like my grades in English,
by far some of my worst grades. Right? But I hated five paragraph essays.
Um, you know, and so I and I didn't care like I was good at school, but I didn't care about school. Like I cared enough to get good enough grades so that I wouldn't get grounded and couldn't go swimming anymore. Like that was my my entire life was just like I have to do well enough so that my parents will let me Keep swimming because this is the only place where I actually have some sort of confidence and get some sort of praise, right? Because this is the space where I do it.
I'm a Gog at this I again, Lee, I don't know how we can be friends. And yet somehow here we are. This is amazing. To me, this seems like very psychologically healthy to be like, like, that's your circus and your monkeys grades people. Like I'm just like collecting peanuts off the floor, right? Like to see the kind of gamified nature of school and stuff. And everyone is like trying to get you to play a game called I win at school and you're playing a game called by win and not getting banned from swimming. Yeah, which is a different game, right? So you, I mean, you have a lot of bowl impulse to pursue your own goals there in the face of probably quite strong pressure to pursue other people's goals. So sometimes, like our blindness to other people's desires for us can be a boon in that sense. But I wonder Lee, sometimes if we were discussing this a couple weeks ago, when we were talking about, you know, picking houses and stuff, and I was like, That's really great that you, you know, you saved your energy for when you got a house and you had some minimal demands. And like, it's great, you can just go with the flow. And then you said something that like broke my heart, you said, like, well, maybe I just didn't, like, say anything about my preferences otherwise, because like, I didn't know if anybody would respect them. Right? Like you didn't feel like that's like, oh, god like in, in what ways is this kind of like, I'm marching to the beat of my own drum and playing my own game, I'm not going to play your game. Like how much of that is like a laudable refusal rate of the means of whatever it happens to be? And what part of that is like, diminishing your own goals for yourself, because you're like, I'm not going to basically as a kind of, I'm not going to play because I'm just going to lose. And so like, there is a negative side to that.
No, I was gonna say that there's like, I've always steered in the, like, hard swerve away from perfectionism in most cases, because of my RSD. I'm sure, right? Like, this is gonna suck. Yeah. Right. And so I will do the, you know, the shittiest, bare minimum. Right? We still was a cheat, like, look, like I was still a nerd. I was able to get, you know, I had to stay on the honor roll. And so I always had to be B plus average to stay on the honor roll. And I could do that fairly easily without trying very hard. Right? And then I got the whole, like, why don't you apply yourself? You could do so much better. You're so much smarter than this. And I'm like, fuck it. Why? But also, if I tried harder, and then didn't succeed, right, what the fuck was that going? How
Yeah, how crushing was that gonna be? And so it was like, so? You know, I, it's funny, because I've become known as the person who like gladly announces their failures. Right? Um, you know, I've been invited to speak on panels about failure, you know, because they're, like me, sure. open and honest about it. It's like, well, it's either that or I internalize it all again, and get real depressed. Which is
why it wasn't like, it was 2018 2017. Like, there's this like, remember, like, everybody was posting like their CV of failures? Yeah, yeah. And the critique, and the backlash came against that. It was like a real moment. Failure had a real moment. And you could be successful at failing.
Yeah, for a while there. Yeah. Well, now I'm so successful at failing, like, just so successful or failed, like, I'm good for you. But part of it is as well, like the ADHD impulse to like, throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Yeah, we're like, you know, I'm like, I like I want to do this, this, this, this, this and this. And then I try all these things. And then like, maybe, and I don't even want to say maybe I'm good at one of them. Maybe I actually enjoy one of them. But the rest of them is just kind of like oh, I failed at them. But at the same time, I actually don't really give a shit. Like I gave a shit for about eight seconds. And now I don't and that's okay.
Yeah. So like you're throwing all the spaghetti at the wall. See what sticks, which is like emotionally not very involved for you. And it never mind that 90% of the spaghetti has now fallen in the dirt. And it's edible. You're like, well, look
this stuff. I guess I'll do that. Yeah, I spent a whole bunch of the ADHD tax, right, we were talking about that. There's the game the other day, that was like, we need an ADHD hyperfocus exchange. So like, all of the equipment that I bought for the thing that I was interested in for 30 minutes, we can now trade them and you can have it as your hyper fixation and I'll take your tape. Yeah, so here have all my sewing but give me all of your bag all your
supplies and take your embroidery. Yeah, and yeah, there's all my piano and then we'll rotate we'll rotate through right click on it. Yeah, yeah. Got a road racing bike. I'll trade you for a really good yoga mat. Like Alright, yeah. Um, yeah, I mean the other mode. Besides that throw everything at the wall waste a bunch of it, see what sticks and be like, well, I guess that's what I'm doing, which isn't really choice. That's more chance. Right? And and the other mode is like to ram your head repeatedly into the wall until it falls over. And then you're like, I beat the wall. Yeah. Right. I have a blistering headache, possibly a concussion, like,
I've totally bruised thighs and can't sit properly for months. Right. That's how you still can't ask me if everything's
okay at home. Yeah, that's right. Like, wow, yeah, you spanked yourself? Yeah, I did click record for hours. Wow. I'm sorry, I just processed what the internet search would look like. And I just now unbroken. Okay, pulling back from it. Yeah, so I was the kid that tried to do really well in school, but had to know what everybody else is because like my, like, 39.5 out of 40 on a test meant nothing to me, if someone got 40, or 40. And it meant something to me, if everybody else got through it not it was the best if everybody else got 25, right? out of 40. And I got 39 and a half, because then I could stomach the loss of the point five, right, which is like, you can imagine I didn't have very many friends in elementary school. And you would be right. Because this is not a great way to move through the world. And it also made me less interested in, in learning new things, but more interested in expanding my skills in areas where I was already way ahead of everybody else, right. And I didn't, I didn't want to, like, catch up on things that I was not so good at. I gave up on those things, right. So you know, not for me, I don't do those things. But I'm really good at academic subjects. And so I'm going to, like take everything out of exercise and healthy limit and just dump it all into the realm where I might be perfect. And like obviously, that's a strategy that leads to burnout. And you know, if you're an athlete and you do that you specialize too young and you devote everything to this like one sport, you'll have mental burnout as well as physical injury and you can you can get mental injury from from over identifying with the realms in which you are aiming for perfection and people will not stop you. Because we think high achievement is laudable and important. It's like having more energy like being perfectionism, we tend to associate that with attentive to details, and, and driven and ambitious and all of those things. But really, perfectionism I suggest to you is just another word for self hatred.
Yeah. Right. When, and I was I was a lot of the same way to where I, you know, I found swimming, and I was not going to try anything else. Right, like, it was a good thing that I found swimming for all different kinds of reasons. But, you know, I, I wrecked my knees, right and then wrecked my shoulders. And God knows the you know, like, just And, look, I'm not saying I I'm you know, I would I tried soccer. I was miserable. I tried T ball. I was miserable. Like, you know, it was, but but the, you know, there were opportunities for other aquatic sports, like maybe I would have been a better water polo player. But I was always too scared to even try it. Right? Like, what if, what if I fail at this? What if I'm not good at this? I mean, I you know, I wasn't good at swimming either at the end of the day, but like, at least I was within my limitations of it. And I had a role and a place that was carved out for me. Whereas if I went over to say water polo, who knew what was going to happen?
I think you would have crushed it at water polo. I mean, with your like core control your lower body strength. You're like you you occupies space in the pool, and you've got like freaky long arms too, because you're like, not a short person, right? Like, I think, oh, man,
if somebody could hurt, but here's but here's the thing, so I played in the water I played in the summer, right? And, um, and I was fearless too as no one surprised no one like it was like I didn't I would play against boys. Listen, like Yeah, I was just like, blimey Adam. It was almost also like a release right? Like I wasn't allowed to be angry or upset in any other facet of my life. But like in the water in what you're playing water polo. Oh, boy. Help that I played against a lot of Mean Girls. And it was like yeah, my you might be a bit higher than me on the social ladder but in the pool. great equalizer. But I love it. I couldn't shoot. Oh, you know, like the throwing like a girl thing that they exact. Like that's how I shot the water polo ball. And it was one of those situations where it didn't matter how many different ways the coach tried to explain to me how to shoot the ball, right? I couldn't do it. So they put me in nets. Right? You know, because I did have really good low bar strength and I could get myself pretty high up on an A beer and I was fearless. So I didn't care if people were throwing balls at your
face. Yeah, right. Right.
But but but again, like it was it was one of those things like I said I would I was good people were like you should do your round waterpolo you should join this team and I was all like No, no, no, I'm gonna want to stay with my. Yeah. Yeah, my comfort zone. I know what to expect. I know what's what's going on. You know, for that, and it was, it was sort of I was also, you know, afraid to try new things. Yeah, I was I was fearful of a lot of different things. Right. Yeah. In terms of, and I wore that as a badge, right. Like, I was like, everyone, everyone figure skated in my elementary school. And I was the only girl or maybe there was one other one. We're the only two who never even tried figure skating.
Right, which, because you saw that you're like, Yeah, you know what, I don't think that's gonna work for me. Otherwise, I just, I don't see how No.
Yeah, so I think our perfectionism in some ways, and like, you know, is is often recognized as ambition, right? Like, you are ambitious enough to try to be perfect, but I think insight that perfectionism is actually a defensive move. Oh, yeah. Right. I don't want to let this out into the world. Unless it's perfect. I don't want people to see me do this, unless it's already perfect. Right. So perfectionism assumes that on your own, you can achieve an unassailable degree of competence or accomplishments such that there is no possibility of any negative feedback Ever. Which like, sure, if that worked, that would be amazing, right? And, and so like, I think many of us neurodivergent people have ample experience of negative feedback from people related things we do. And it's a little sound wish to avoid that, right. But in some ways, it makes our problems worse, because we think like, I have to master this before I show it to anybody. And because of our learning differences, often we can't actually teach ourselves to a level of perfection, then we give up on things right? Or we keep trying the same thing over and over again, until we can sit in the car on the way home, your parents have to put it in the trunk, or strap us to the roof, like Mitt Romney's dog, Mitt Romney's vomiting dog. Yeah, and so that's not great, because it's our perfection. And then perfectionism then is triggered by our fear of the reaction of others, right? It's not intrinsic. It's not like, you know, I wish to create but you know, sometimes people have artistic or like, I wish to create the perfect song, like I wish to be the perfect sculpture. Because in my head, I can hear it and the thing that's inside my head, I've not quite matched it here like is is one thing. But sometimes those are just never producing we could talk about JD Salinger. Maybe never, like hardly writing anything after his first spate of stuff and but like, okay, that's your jam, that's your jam. But in like most situations, where our predictions and is triggered, like it can be deleterious to our relationships, and to our work, like I could do more academic writing, if I wasn't being a perfectionist about it, and part of my perfectionism there is to insulate myself against criticism or to say, like, it has taken me so long to produce so little, that it better be perfect when it comes out to justify all that and like that's another reason I don't like giving incompletes to students, because anytime you give anybody an extension, they assume that the number of days extra you give them it has to be that number of days better than what they would have handed in, were able to submit it on time, right people who you give extensions to generally feel bad about it. And then what they want to do is make what they give you perfect in order to justify the extension, right? And so that's like another way that perfectionism becomes defensive. We're trying to insulate ourselves against feelings of unworthiness, or from negative feedback, or also to insulate ourselves from triggering disappointment in others about us, right? Yeah, like it's, it's funny, I spent the whole weekend like, crazy cleaning in my house like Saturday, I just sat down and did nothing emotionally exhausting week, last week that involved a lot of sort of inter personal politicking and work context and a lot of like very high stakes discussions and like all this stuff, that kind of stuff I'm not really good at and that took a lot out of me. And I said to my sister, like, this week was a lot. I need Saturday to be not much at all right? I think did nothing Saturday, and then Sunday, I thought, oh, gosh, you know, Tom has been doing so much work around the house and like carrying a load of chores and stuff, like I just really, I want to do a lot so that like he'll know, right? That I'm not slacking or I'm not taking advantage of all these things. And I like was up on the ladder doing the chandeliers with the the gloves, the dusting gloves and my goodness underneath the couch getting the baseboards and like cleaning in between the cushions like the leather wipes out and did the leather furniture, air conditioning wipes like it was like out of control I just like all the I dusted all the tops of all the paintings the hung paintings in the house and like I did so much right I was like look look at all the things I did look at all the things I did look at he's like, do my eight plus on this I'm like, yeah, and then he got mad because I forgot to go grocery shopping. And I did I forgot like because I was so I was so afraid that he was going to get mad at me for not doing enough chores that I overdid it did the wrong chores. I still got mad at me. And I was like well shit. Like we talked it out. He's not my Not anymore. It was just like, well, that's one of those things like prospective memory where like, I have to remember, like, what's the most important thing to do, but I like, I was like, you know, once I started dusting and doing the spring cleaning, I was like, I'm not going to have acid. Perfect. Like, I'm gonna go, I'm gonna like dust the grooves on the edge of the outside of the bathtub. Right? Because there's just like, like, that's where I was at like toothbrush in the grout like I am going to be, I'm going to do the best spring cleaning that anybody's ever done. Because I feel guilty that maybe my, you know, my husband, who actually does, like 50% of things that I'm not being a good wife, because I'm supposed to do 100% of things, which I don't believe but which like some times triggers this anxiety in me about my, like, failed femininity that I like, aim for perfection did not get it was very exhausted. My bathtub looks great. We had no milk, right? And then I had to go grocery shopping at nine o'clock at night. I'm like, Yeah, that's sorry, I didn't mean this grew. I know this is more important. And I would never let you down like this on purpose. He's like, and I reminded you this morning to do it. I'm like, and then I forgot. Yeah. You know, but it was perfectionism. It wasn't that it wasn't working. Right. I was like, doubling down on on tasks that didn't need to be done in order to prove something to somebody else who wasn't asking me to prove that because I was afraid of disapproval and disappointment. Right. And that didn't help me at all. I mean, my chandeliers I'm going to tell you look great. Oh,
yeah. They're everything's impeccable. Right there.
I got the ladder. Yeah, everything. Yeah, it was really something that, like groceries was more important. And like, good enough. would have been okay. Yeah, I'm good enough is okay. When you feel secure, right? When you you're in your work are secure in your attachments, so that people who love you or, you know, secure in your social group, you don't have to make extravagant gestures, which are like you're making a human sacrifice to the God of friendship, right, in the human being sacrificed is you? Right?
And that's, and that's also like, the ADHD modes, right? It's either all or nothing. Mm hmm. Right. Like, if there's, if it's on or it's off, and yeah, when it's on, it's gonna be on. That's right. And then when it's off, you know, it's. So what I've done is with my kids, because of course, this sounds like what my kids will do. Right. Right. And so what I I've started tried to reframe it, because of course, I, you know, it is I say I'm not mad at them, I'm just saying frustrated. Right? Right, which is a way with the kids to sort of reframe that conversation around, not even them being perfectionist, but just like the what is it the pro, you know, you tell them to do something? And if they don't, you'll do it right. Oh, spective? Micro spective. There we go. Yes, the prospective memory. Right, the lapses in prospective memory. Um, you know, I try to say it because I get a little barky. Right, and I have a loud voice. And so it sounds like you know, Eileen, and I always say Oh, you don't know. Yeah, yeah. But don't get sharp, right? Don't get the tone. Sharp. There's a tone, tone. Do not matter. You're just me. I know that. I know that tone. There are. There are water, there's water polo boys, that are waiting to get in the water after my little kids are doing it. And they're like, they're all like 10 to 13. And they're goofing around and just so I get out my tone and those boys stop.
If you didn't stop a 13 year old boy and a pack of other boys, then you have accomplished something. Yeah, yeah.
No, that voice is they they? They they're like where's mom?
Like a cosmic mom. Yeah.
Shit. Yeah. But anyways, but so what? So when we get into these conversations is we try to I try to talk to them about it and be like, Okay, I'm not mad, I'm frustrated. And then we try to have a conversation around. What do we need to do? So that this happens less? Yeah, right. What are our strategies? Yeah, you know, um, what can we and then so it's, and that's where we get like, forms on the phone or, you know, certain rules that it's like, Look, you don't like it when I get frustrated with you. I don't like getting frustrated with you. Clearly, we're not doing something well here. So let's talk about and, you know, it's, it's trying to kind of break that cycle where it's like, okay, well, let's come up with our own strategies, but also you come up with the strategies so that we can try to make this work and, like, empower them in a way that we were never empowered. Yeah, right. That it's like, we're gonna keep doing the same thing over and over again, and it's not gonna work. And we're like, Yeah, let's put a stop to that. And see if we can come up with something that works for us.
Yeah. Yeah. Like that response to the kind of perfectionism that lives in that joke we're always making like, I will just try to be a different person. Yeah, right. Like I perfect myself. Like, that's not possible. All right. Or, you know, you're like, Oh, you forgot to do the thing again, like, I'm gonna have a little chat with my kid when they come home because last night I was like, you know, when you left this morning you had an unloaded the dishwasher, there's a big pile of dishes that were meant to go in the dishwasher and you left all your breakfast stuff on, like where you ate, you didn't even move it back into the kitchen and you left the front door unlocked and you left the light on in the closet and the closet door open. And they're like, Yeah, okay, sorry. I won't do it tomorrow. And then they did it today again. Yeah. Yeah. So they're gonna come back and like, they're like, well try better. Like, I'll try harder, like, try harder is not do it. Right. So what they need to say and like, which I have had to stay with Tom to book me for getting to get the groceries is like, I'm probably gonna forget a lot. He's like you, but when I remind you, you snip it me. And I'm like, that's true. I do. I need to not do that. I need to acknowledge that. I'm not going to be the person who remembers spontaneously that chore that was important to you, but less important to me because I'm never hungry. And I don't eat, right. Like, if I'm going to require reminders, and I do like, it's a certain Act of, of humility and vulnerability there to say, Yeah, I'm not gonna be able to perfect this, like, I'm at my highest level of achievement here. Like, this is as good as it's gonna get. So yeah, this is I need to ask for help. Right? And that help is like, Please remind me. And then if you're like, Well, when I remind you, you you get angry at me for infantilizing you. And I'm like, well, actually, yeah. Okay, so I need to my work, then yeah, is not get better at remembering this stuff. But get better at accepting the reminders that I've asked for, right. And that's the opposite of perfectionism. Because it says like, I am a flawed human. And I'm always going to be flawed. I want to accomplish this to a level that's acceptable to everybody so that we have food in the house, so that my kid can eat breakfast and then leave their dishes out to make me frustrated, right? We need groceries in order for those things to happen.
We need groceries, so I could be frustrated.
Like you said this, like this long causal chain there.
Oh, then that's, and that's the other ADHD thing, too. Right. I think that that comes in with perfectionism is the causal chain. Yeah, that if I am not perfect at this, yeah. Then these are all of the things that will happen.
Yeah. catastrophizing? Yes, yeah, and ruminating, right, like I should have finished this months ago. And I'm never going to finish it that's ruminating and catastrophizing simultaneously, right? So obsessively looking at things in the past, and then not changing your future behavior or plans on the basis of like a sober assessment of what went wrong for you. But being like an I'm a bad person, therefore, I must be somebody different, and be perfect for all the things like all the C's that I got. I now need to balance that out with Triple A pluses on everything. Like that's not actually
bonus grades. I want bonus grades. Yeah, exactly. Bonus grades,
like, is there extra screen is me. Yeah. But like, the thing is, that just ratchets up the pressure, right, and raises the standard higher than I would like to do better than C plus, or whatever it is, right? Like, I would like to, you know, maybe I'm not ever like we're talking about last week, maybe like the end of term is not always going to be great for me, but maybe I shift my expectations around what the end of term is going to be like, and maybe I learn from past instances to change my target. Right? Not change myself. Right. And because perfectionism is always aiming at an absolute target. And there are no absolute targets, like, I mean, if you want to, like we're gonna put a man on the moon via like, 1970, or like, whatever your moonshot goal is, like, you can measure that, like you got to the moon, like, but you wouldn't be able to say it, we're gonna be wearing like shiny pants when we get there. And the Beatles will do a concert and everyone will love me as a result of that, like, you can't tie those things in, right? Like, you can have a goal. You're like, I want to get there. And like, maybe it's not going to be the way I originally imagined it. Right. But But perfectionism says there is somewhere of scorekeeper. Yeah, we'll be able to say, Well, there's one right way to do it, too. And there's one right way to do it. And one right way to
do it. That's, that's the Yeah, so I think and I think about it, because I keep thinking about my own situation where I'm like, the queen of good enough. But part of that is also just like, you know, again, the fear of the rejection, if I actually try it, this and it goes wrong. So there's, you know, I, I think about that with my writing a lot, right? Because everybody's like, How are you so productive? And I'm like, I just hit publish. Like there's 12 spelling mistakes in one sentence fragment and one run on but I'm just gonna hit publish. And then the internet trolls will come after me and tell me how useless I am
just call them your candidate squad. Yeah.
Well, no, that's what I mean. And like, and that's that shit actually used to really bother me like I would get devastated. Yeah. When I was first publishing on Inside Higher Ed and like, somebody would point out, and then I became sort of obsessed not with the and this is this is the problem is that then you end up right, I've missed the forest for the trees. Right. So now I'm stressing out over Every single spelling, every single piece of punctuation every repeated word, but I'm not actually focusing anymore and what I'm trying to get out.
Yeah, yeah, it's like, sentences are perfect. But your article is boring, right? Like, a trade off, you should make like, No, you know, the thing I'm good at is like, I can write it fast, it's going to be topical, it's going to be relevant, it's going to be interesting. I am not great at copy editing my own stuff, right? The end. So it's not perfect on all fronts to an absolute standard in the great cosmic ledger, right? Like in the good place, like you're not getting points like for this. But like, that's both humble, right to say, like, I am not good at this. And it's also confident like, but I am good at this. And it's kind of accepting of the messiness of lived reality, which is nobody can make anything that's perfect, we can just do the best that we can, within the constraints that we have. And according to our own values, it's more important to get this out quicker, right? I enjoy writing and publishing things like posting things I do not enjoy, like, obsessing for three weeks to make sure that there's no simple comma errors in here or that I have, like not misspelled somebody's name that is, or use
the wrong day, or just because I'm typing. Like, I
do that all the time. Yeah, I feel like that's really important to some people. But it's not that important to me, I can fix that later. Right. That's not something to obsess about. And that like, also requires something that's very difficult for neurodivergent people, which is trusting their own values. Right? Yeah. This is like a way I'm trying to orient myself in my job right now, which I've been talking about with my therapist, which is like, why do I do academic research? Like, it's part of my job, right. But I also I love like, you, I love writing, there's a time in my life, I could not stop writing, because I just love words, and I love making ideas. And I love comparing things to other things. But at a certain point, the Joy got taken out of it for me, and it felt like kind of coerced, and it felt kind of like I was always writing defensively for reviewer to that I was trying to prove something about my worth as a person or I was trying to like gain status and status seeking game. And and, and I was being a kind of perfectionist there. And it was about everybody else's values, not mine. Yeah. Right. And the result was I don't write anything, right. Like, that's basically how that that turned out. And so like for us to develop the net competence, no, like, you know, what's really important to me is that occasionally, when people read my stuff, they chuckle, right, I don't want anybody to feel stupid. When they're reading my academic work, right? I want them to be like, I didn't know you could cite something like that in an academic paper. Like, that's the kind of thing that I that I want. And that's a value. And I also want to enjoy the process of writing it. And I want to research things that are that are interesting to me. Like, that's what I want. Like maybe that's not the way to, quote unquote, win the quote unquote, game. And maybe that's not what perfect would look like, but I have to, at some point, become confident in being able to articulate what I want. Yeah, I would have something to just stop chasing a plus plus pluses for the sake of a swaging my own anxiety that I'm not good enough, and start just doing what's good enough for me to be able to live with my choices, and be happy with what I've done. Right?
Yeah. And that's what I'm, like, people always ask me, and I just wrote a chapter on this. I don't know, did it come out yet? I don't know it right.
Yeah. But that guess I do. And they said, they people asked me, particularly as an attack or a postdoc, or whatever you want me to call? They're like, Well, what about your research, right? And I said, I do more research and have had more opportunities, since I left or, you know, chasing because I never got a tenure track job like anyways, chasing the tenure track job chasing the peer review with the right peer reviewed publications chasing the right book manuscript and the right publisher, the, when I stopped doing all of that, you know, I took a break, it took a pause, like, you know that, but I, I get to research what I want to research now. Yeah, right. And, and as research is a small part of my job, sort of, but at the same time, it's not an essential part of my job. And so, like, they like to see it, but they don't care about the journal, they don't care about the venue, they don't care about any of that kind of stuff. And so, you know, if I want to talk about an effective labor, then I'm going to talk about effective labor if I want to do a thought and, you know, it's, it's been, I also, again, having learned of what I'm good and bad at, I can pick and choose my writing projects as well. Where I won't submit to something if I don't directly know the person who's editing it. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Right. Where it's or or somebody will vouch for them. Right, that I that I know, because, you know, I I know, I need an editor. I know I need to, you know, and but I want somebody who will, nonetheless respect my voice. Yeah, you know, help make the writing better and not just be a reviewer too. Yeah. You know, so that's and there's there's a certain privilege with that, but At the same time, like I could have kept going and doing the same old thing, even when I went into all dock work. Sure. And instead I was like, You know what? I'm gonna do podcast?
Yeah. And I can I want to do because that's what I
want to do. Yeah. And nobody's gonna criticize me for wasting my time doing my podcast, when I should be writing more peer reviewed articles or finishing that manuscript
and is a perfect podcast. No. Yeah,
I agree that maybe he's not a perfectionist and all
that regular outbursts of bad audio, I switched my microphone, like five minutes into recording, which people are probably gonna hear like, it's but you know what it works, it's, it's good enough in the sense that it is, like, excellent at the things that it wants to be excellent at. But it's not like, we're really hoping we're gonna win like Apple podcasts of the year or whatever. Because like, then you'd be looking up articles on like, you know, what are the characteristics that like, because then you're finding an external standard? Did we mention search
engine optimized how to algorithm like, what do I need to do in order to get the algorithm to recognize,
yeah, remote, right, and then you're, you're chasing the marker of success, but you don't feel it in your heart, because it's not the thing that you wanted to do, right? Like, I think that's so important, it's so hard for us to learn, because I think we're, we're often feeling behind everybody else in ways. Like, we're not good enough, but many things. And so we think like, well, I got to achieve all the things that are in front of me that, that it is possible to be ranked on, I need to get a high grade in all of those things, right. But like, often, that's futile, because we're not going to be able to do that we're just going to wind up with bruises on the backs of our thighs, and, and sometimes it will just make us sad to do it, right. And we have to figure out, um, kind of what works for us and then not be perfectionist about it, because the perfectionism is so brittle, right? Because you will never be perfect. And the sensible response to experiencing that a few times is to say I am chasing the wrong thing. Like I'm never going to be perfect, right? I'm just going to assume like asymptotically approaching perfect and like, the closer I get to it the heart.
It's like it's it's, what is it the curve that never meet needs?
Approaching? Yeah, zero kind of thing. Like, you're never going to get this kind of a long tail process where like, you're just going to exhaust yourself, trying to insulate yourself defensively, and then you're not going to enjoy what you're doing anymore. And you're just going to be in pursuit forever, of a thing that you're never going to get and then think that you yourself have failed. But I mean, you're chasing the impossible. Right? So like, of course,
you've you've really helped me here to thinking through, you know, my son quit swimming. And I think this is what he's going through right now. Yeah, could be thick. This is what part of what is going through right now? Because he says, I mean, it's not fun for him anymore. And I think he's set sort of external.
And not able to achieve it.
Yeah. You know, like a lot of people a lot of dudes are happier in like, rec league hockey for old farts than they were in the glory years on the rep team. Right. Playing like peewee traveling team when it was very high pressure. But the idea is like, if you can get better and better and better at something, then you should write even if it's not something you enjoy, right? Like, lots of people enjoy things once they stopped doing them for their jobs. For example, right? Yeah. Right. Because like, what are jobs except the imposition of certain standards of performance against which you can be measured that can take you know, the do what you love and turn it into? Like, do what makes you hate yourself? Basically. Right?
Well, again, I was really good. Like, I was good at writing. I enjoyed writing, but I hated English class. Right? Right. English was like my least favorite subject. Almost my least favorite subject biology was my least favorite. But like, because I was bad at memorizing things, right? Like, I don't understand biology, they're like, there's nothing I understand. You just memorize things. Right? I'm like, oh, as I said, yeah, go to biology. Don't understand it. But so the so it's, it's, I think, though, like and again, I'm thinking to myself, and maybe I'm just beating myself up thinking about is like there's the good enough, but then am I stealing opportunities to get better? If I just take five or 10 extra minutes? If I just took a little more like I'm thinking about my sewing right like you see everybody with these perfectly finished seams on the inside and they've Hong Kong like whatever them and I'm like
Um, no, I can't I would not wear Yeah, not wear so they I knew the seams were not like perfect on the inside. Yeah,
and I get that yeah, and whereas I'm I'm not like that and I don't care and I just want the dress to be done so I can get the sweet sweet dopamine hit of publishing this and then put it on and get the dopamine HELL YEAH. On Instagram, yeah. And then all the loves and all the more dopamine hits on. I'm figuring this out about myself why I love sewing so much. But But again, what would that extra five minutes be? What would the extra 10 minutes be? Like? Where is where is the line between giving up too soon? Yeah, and then, but then also going too far and be like, you know, oh my gosh, this one stitch isn't completely straight. Throw it out. Yeah, I keep thinking of Dawn music. We're done music from Sesame Street. Together right. Now you slams into the piano, I guess. I guess that was based on one of the actual composers for Sesame Street. Oh, Lord.
Yeah, yeah, that was great. Actually waste on him. What if we could experiment? Like what if we could experiment with that? Right? Because I don't know where the line is to. And I think so many of us are in that all or nothing mindset.
That's exactly when we're urgent. There's no,
there's no middle, right? Yeah, not now. Perfect. Or awful, right? Yeah. All or nothing? And yeah, and I wonder if we could, like, sometimes if you know that your tendency is to like, beat back. It's good enough, right? If sometimes you're like, Well, you know what, maybe let's just try see, like, how would I feel if I you know, for this one dress like said, I'm gonna, I'm kind of like, iron all the pieces before? I know you do that never, like never gonna watch them. No, I still go. Oh, you told me you liked it.
Time sometimes depends on the garment, but like, not as often as I should?
Yeah. Or like, like, for me, I'm trying to think about, like, I was thinking about this the other day why piano was so much more fun for me than writing right now. And I was, you know, for many more hours a day than I will do writing. And it's because of the piano. I'm not expecting myself to be perfect. And I don't think anybody's judging me, right? It's like, Oh, shit. That's why I'm not working on my books. It's because it feels so much pressure to be perfect. And I feel other people are expecting this. And I feel like it's a referendum on my value as a human being and like for piano, who the fuck cares? Like, yeah, get this show pay or not? Literally, nobody cares. And I enjoy sitting down to practice like, so I forced you to listen to a couple bars of some Chopin, Opus 64. Number two waltz. In D something. These are major, maybe I can't remember the key signature for that. But it's like it's gonna roll fast passage. I'm like, listen, Lee, no one cares. But I just have to play it for somebody, right? Because no one cares. And I enjoy the process. And I used to enjoy writing and write because I feel this really strong perfection search. So for me, it's like how can I find a little bit of my good enoughness? Right, so So Tom and I are taking curling lessons right now?
Oh, my gosh, are you oh my god, I
love that. Talked about this yet. I love either much gifts, guess which position I am. If you had to guess. Oh, you're skip. Of course. I'm just skipped your shoulders. So I'm not going to sweet. And also I'm bossy and I'm good at math. So yeah, I love it. I'm not great at it. But like I'm at the very bottom of the learning curve, right? Like I used to play when I was like in middle school, we had a leak because that's where I'm from showdown Northern Ontario. But like, I'm not good at it. Everybody. Like the people playing like the Saturday leagues beside us. I'm going to shoot beside us like 100 times better than me. But it's kind of fun to like sucked at something because you better yeah, measurably better, and I'm probably not going to be Olympics. I mean, I wouldn't rule it out. I could be maybe the next emperor John's like, I'm not going to be though, but I don't have to be good at this. Yeah, right. I don't have to. So that like, for me, it's about undoing my perfectionism. My need to be better than everybody because people don't like people who feel a constant need to be better than everybody. Yeah, people feel a constant need to be better than anybody don't like themselves. Right? So I'm trying to learn, maybe not in my job right away. But I'm trying to learn ways to be less perfectionist. Like maybe all of the blinds don't have to be hand dusted across two floors of the house. Maybe I should just go get some groceries. Right? Maybe that's important. Right now maybe I don't have to be like Martha Stewart needs like hell, Louise's hince beats, like, I don't even know, Betty housewife or something. Like I just like, I don't have to be perfect that and it's very difficult for me to unwind my defensive perfectionism, which does not accomplish perfection. And also alienates everybody around me, from me, and maybe what you need to work on a little bit, if you want it to be like, well, what would it mean if I actually, like tried to achieve more than a B on this? Like, in terms of sewing like, what if someone said that is a garment and I can wear it and it won't fall off? Like what if I aimed at a slightly higher standard? Yeah, just a slightly higher one. Like, what if I wanted somebody to touch my shoulder seam and say it that's really smooth the way you put that together? Like, like, what, what would that feel like? And is it worth it to you to try it? Like I think we have to calibrate all the time, probably. Yeah.
Well, and I think that it's, it's hard for writing in particular, like sewing. There's some again, writing is one of those amorphous things where like, it's a grammatically correct sentence, but is it any good? Yeah, doodle Where I you know, and this has been my problem with writing is that I was always told I was a good writer. And everybody always told me how great my writing was. Oh, yeah. And then when people stopped telling me my writing was great and started criticizing my writing, I couldn't make it worse. Yeah. Well, because well, like, but I didn't understand, right? Like, I don't, I was never taught how to make my writing better. Because everybody was always like, yeah, that's a day or B plus, and I never like, you know, my book report. I got a B. And I was like, whatever. It's a book report. I don't care. I have no idea why I got to be either. Right? I just got to be. Yeah. And I wrote it the class before. So yeah. So that so that was that was my with with writing. It was, I thought it was already perfect. Mm hmm. You know, like it was it was such a huge part of my identity. And I thought I was already perfect at it. And then to find out that I wasn't perfect at it was really, really tough. Like that devastated me, but then trying to figure out how to be better at it. Again, it was one of those neurodivergent things, I think, where it just never didn't make sense to me. Yeah, like I
better. I will say, this is something I've been working on with my grad students for many years, because I have found what bedevils like PhD students and Master's students doing thesis projects or major independent work is that what they have is like, it's done or it's not done. And when you entered in, you get a great like they've never iteratively work exactly. Never been like, this is a great first draft. first drafts are supposed to be full of holes. I found the holes for you. Now, step two right in there, what they hear is I failed, right? And I was like, no, no, no, because like complicated ideas, like writing is a craft. And it is a skill and like you can develop facility with sentences that don't move in spiral shapes and confuse people, right? That's just a skill. You got to practice it. Yeah, like diving off the dock, right? You can't just keep doing it. Because you're just going to hurt yourself. Like, I will give you some tips. And it doesn't mean you did poorly like this. I'm working with my grad students this semester. On this too, I'm giving them assignments where they're giving me things that are like attempts, right? And like, just for me, 40 sources, like, I want a mix of academic and like online commentary and primary texts from the internet on there, like indot To summarize them all, like no just like, kind of find them and say, Yeah, I Magpie, you. Yeah, some things because I didn't know anything about this topic. And then I started to research this topic. And I made a taro database that has 40 items in it from a variety of sources. And they're like, and then what I'm like, That's it. Yeah. Right. They're like, but how will I know I found the right things. And like, this is about finding things. Did I say find the right things? No, I just didn't find a variety of things. Like sorting it out, is a later job, right? Because like so many people get worked up about like, I'm not going to ask my first search query correctly. So they don't start right. They figure out the perfect search trouble, like shit, and don't work like that. Like, you have to just like, throw everything at the wall, keep Googling, Googling, and like you just keep googling. That's close, and you'll find one thing but then the words that you need are actually in the thing that you found to your bad Google search. Now your your words like that's fine. I don't need you to be good at this. I need you to take the risk. Yep. To just be like, I don't know what I'm doing. Yeah. But you said find 40 things that might be relevant to the thing I don't know anything about. So I did the end, right? Like it's really hard. And like I really this I think like this switch from ba to Masters level work is the hardest switch not from masters to PhD because from ba to mA suddenly you have a lot more agency and it's not clear what perfect looks like right? It's not a bunch of tests with short answers. It's not like a timed exam. It's not essay prompts you pick one of five essay prompts, and it's clear what you're supposed to do with it. You have a lot more agency. But all the only sort of writing muscles people have ever exercised are what do I need to write to make the teacher give me a good grade? Not what am I interested in? Right? Yeah, exactly. How can I develop as a writer and they lose all the joy in it and all this sort of self direction in it and and so the perfectionism can even come like, how will I know I've chosen the right topic? And I'm like, because I'm a jerk. I did. So like, how will you know you just right topic. I
do that too. I mean, I teach I teach a graduate level class on building their E portfolio. Yeah, right. Yeah, like, well, what's the right audience for this? I'm like, I don't know. What is the right audience? Yeah, what are you what are you like it really they hate me for it, but I'm, I'm just sort of like, it's, I want to give them so much agency on it, but they just want me to give them the answers. And I'm like, Nope, sorry. And that's
what perfectionism leads to. It leads to I have to figure out what the required thing is, and then I have to do it better than everybody else. And it's a fool's errand. Like, I'm trying to like rehabilitate myself in my own writing. I'll show you my tablet. You can see
on this tablet How can I make writing fun again? Oh, I gotta get a screenshot. Hold on, hold it up. For Yeah,
We're taking a screenshot while not talking. Okay? Yeah. Because like, I was talking about this with my therapist, but like, I used to love writing, and now I don't. And so I have to change my modality, like, because I open a computer screen, I'm like, I'll be the perfect academic. Yeah, we're academic. I should have four books by now. And I don't. And so I'm writing by hand and I'm enjoying my own handwriting is so great. Yeah. So I'm like, Well, what if I made the words bigger that were more important? What if I like drew little circles around them? What if I like put stuff all over the page? And I like I smile when I'm doing and I was like, Oh, this could be fun, right? Because all this advice I gave my students about, like you have to explore and the person that you really have to please as yourself and the questions or answer or your own, but like I sit down to write, and I've got like the Nobel jury in front of me, right? saying like,
because it's so like,
it's like, oh, she's she's using Calibri font, bad choice already. Like, let's just go home, it's over, right? So I can't do anything, because I'm so afraid of not being perfect, right. So I have to push myself out of that space, where I already have all those expectations for myself and go into private space using a different like writing mechanism that allows me to find the fun and the not seriousness in it so I can find my way back into it. So for me, it's all about like, undoing my need to be perfect at everything. And like your mileage may vary. Lee's journey is seems to be about like finding ways to like maybe commit a little harder sometimes to like, maybe I will see if I can do 10% Better than this, right? Maybe I don't have to give up so soon, maybe good enough is not good enough for me anymore. Maybe my good enough threshold has gone up a little higher, like a little bit. But like maybe your standard for good enough is like oh, I can accomplish more than I thought that I couldn't it really didn't make me miserable to do that. So like we're just recalibrating both of us are recalibrating, and I expect many of our listeners will be somewhere in the spectrum, right between me and Amy in there. And usually very Yeah, right. Usually, and it might vary from domain to domain. Like, I'm not fussy about my cooking. I'm like it's edible.
Yeah, soon, right. Like, I just I'm not fussy about my cookie neither, because I've never been good at it. And I'm like, you know? Well, I actually have to go to a meeting. Um, I know, I know. Well, I went away to a conference last week. And so now it's like five days worth of meetings that they're
trying to get the Perfect Attendance Award. Wow, wow.
No, no, if I if I was trying to get the Perfect Attendance Award, I would have ended this podcast 10 minutes ago,
when you wouldn't have gotten an award from me if you had tried? Absolutely not.
But shout out in particular to all of the listeners who keep meaning to email us and then forget, we love you love it. I've
been meaning to email people for years, and yet the same people for years. It's not like many people over the years. It's Yes, same simple, so relatable. Yeah, we
love shout out to you all. Thank you all. Also, who shared your own experiences and academic nightmares with us on Twitter. That was a that was so great. And yeah, so I am ready writing on Twitter. Amy is did you want on Twitter,
our email address for spring cleaning photos? Yep.
Follow me. I'm still making dresses. I've got three more to make. I'm like all the dresses that are just, it's a sewing challenge. I'm doing a sewing challenge where it was like, only so from three patterns this month. I'm like, oh, challenge accepted. Like so I'm up to like, I'm gonna have done probably nine. So
of course, of course you will. This is not a surprise to me. After not sewing anything
for like, yeah. But also they're happy fun summer dresses like I was talking about. It's like, oh
my god, it's lightweight things. It's gonna be great. It's gonna be perfect but not preferred
this perfectionist now. Alright, everyone, thank you so much for listening, and we will talk to you again next week.