Monday, November 14, 2011

Standards and PIs

"There are professional standards and then there are personal standards, both of which are good but one of which that typically gets the better of me. My personal standards for dealing with work and volunteering are quiet high, so when I mess something up I usually take it out on myself. It could be a little nothing or it could be huge, both end up getting the better of me. I want to save everyone, make it to every meeting, do everything right even though I know that in reality, there will be times when I slip up or the patient was simply beyond me. Yet it is the little things, like missing a meeting that I had no excuse to miss simply because I got caught up with what I was doing that particularly annoy me. I should be better than this, I should be able to do everything. I know I am human and I always do my best, but sometimes I feel like nothing wants to work out in my favor."

I wrote that a month a half ago. I was incredibly frustrated with myself over a very little something. I can smile at it now because I have since A) had an even worse day than that one that ended in a mental breakdown and a great roommate and B) have come to terms with my perfectionism (at least for now).

Now, the first thing to realize is that I am a perfectionist in only certain parts of my life, cleaning is not one of them. My poor room is constantly a disaster (of clean clothes) and the apartment bathroom sorely needs cleaning (bless my roommate for putting up with me). Oddly, the kitchen is almost always clean. Anyways, the point is that in lab and on the ambulance, I am a perfectionist. If I can't get something to work right, I get very upset at myself.

This is in part why I want to be a doctor because I feel there is so little I can do as an EMT. I know I am capable of more if people just let me! I have some what come to terms with my limited practitioner skills at this point, though I am finding that I need to crack my own whip again soon and beef up on those provider skills.

But lab, oh lab still gets me when it comes to perfectionism. I know I have the skills and the brains to do well so it drives me nuts when I can't get something to work! I feel like its all my fault when in truth, it is the nature of science and research. Rarely do things go correctly the first time. I get so frustrated that I forget I have the brain and the ability to troubleshoot.

This is where my current PI is a blessing. He has yet to get mad at me for something I couldn't do in lab. He has taken the attitude of helping me troubleshoot my way through an experiment, from literature research through design, execution, and data analysis. Of course, he had to tell me that this was his plan otherwise I would have been incredibly frustrated at myself for not being able to do anything. Once I got that through my head, late nights with nothing working stings less. It stings no doubt, but it is bearable.

So the point of all this rambling is that perfectionism and the frustration that goes with it is a double-edged sword. It can, if I am not careful, make me destroy myself, but, when managed, it can make the most beautiful results.

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