"There have always been highly capable women wanting to be scientists." Rita Colwell, PhD
Recovering from Perfectionism
February 22, 2022
Hello, my name is Jacqueline and I am a recovering perfectionist. I used to spend so much time perfecting my work before asking for feedback. I wanted my professors and mentors to see how exceptional I be on the first try. But as my work load increased, I stopped having nearly as much time to perfect each assignment. I had a choice to make. I could either hold back my productivity or start showing my mentors my rough drafts — GASP!!! So I took a chance. I started showing my mentors rough drafts. I stopped sitting and reading and rereading my work for weeks. And you know what, my productivity has only increased.
Especially in science careers, it is so easy to get lost in the details and lost in this idea of perfection. But this will only hold us back. For example, I’ve seen individuals pour over research proposals for weeks on end, they spend so much time editing and rethinking there idea, only to have a mentor suggest changes at the very beginning of their work. This can shift the entire aim of your project. All of a sudden, that month thinking through every detail of your project was wasted time and now they need to redesign a more effective experiment.
Paying attention to detail is vital, but so is asking for feedback! We all have mentors for a reason, because they’ve been in our shoes before. They know how to guide us and they know more about the research field then we do. Use them!! Allow them to guide your work.
It is intimating to show our mentors our “rough drafts”. But I encourage you, stop trying to be a perfectionist. It will only hold you back. Instead, be Brave. Brave enough to ask for advice. Brave enough to make mistakes. Ask for feedback early and often. And above all, have confidence in yourself that your work is valuable. This will only increase your productivity, knowledge, and skills while allowing you to be the most authentic version of yourself.
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