When Excellent is Adequate, Nothing is Ever Good Enough

Stencil
Credit: flickr / gingerbeardman

I have the dubious distinction of being the intern, who on my self evaluation, had the biggest (positive) different between how my team rated me, and how I rated myself. I gave myself all average marks, bar one (initiative, +1). My 3 teammates evaluated me, and I only had one average mark, total, so I scored above average on every aspect.

The evaluation from my mentor was really good too, above average on everything bar imagination. A. Excellent. Constructive feedback on things I’m already working on (because she’s always giving us constructive feedback) – including: “Cate needs to be more willing to email people she’s been introduced to”.

As my manager gave me my feedback, I joked, “Oh so I don’t have to feel quite as inadequate as I do then?”, consensus was “no”. At the end  I said, “I’m doing okay then, great”. Yes, it’s good. Yes I’m happy with it. But I feel like anything less than “excellent” would be below the standards that I hold myself to. It wouldn’t be good enough.

Of course, now I’m wondering about my imagination. As a problem solver, do I want to be imaginative? How could I become more imaginative if I wanted to? Is it partly that what we’re doing doesn’t provide huge scope for imagination?

I also got feedback from the girl geek dinner talk I gave. I had a speaker score of 4.29, which I’m really happy with too. And after a week of tortured waiting and obsessive email checking, Thursday night at 5, I got an email from Google. I’m through to the next round! I guess all my preparation paid off.

It’s good for me to have a sanity check. I try to push myself every day, but I never feel like I’m doing well enough. I’m not going to be less hard on myself (relentless improvement, baby!) but it’s nice to know that other people think I’m doing OK. To take a moment and say, I might not be where I want to be, but I don’t suck.

However, and this might be ridiculous angst-y, I couldn’t help worrying – my professional life and my personal life are so amazing right now… it can’t be real, it must be about to fall apart.

Sure enough, mere hours after I wrote the first draft of this post I discovered someone had been saying things about me and a project I’ve been working on behind my back. The positive feedback came from more than 10 people. The negative from just the one. But which am I dwelling on?

Yeah, of course.

Toji and Chihiro
Credit: flickr / fofurasfelinas

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