8 September 2013

The best lessons are the hardest to learn.

Yes, that's right - I'm going to get all serious on you. You have been warned!

The end of the upcoming week will mark my 8th week milestone of my year-long internship.

As it stands, the internship has not gone as smoothly as I could have hoped. It's had it's perks, but it's also had its lows. 

Last week, everything got way, way, WAY too much, and I learned some very important lessons that I'm still struggling to accept.

If you don't already know (and most people that have met me even a few times will know this, because it's pretty much ingrained into my character) - I'm a perfectionist. In my mind, if something isn't done to its full potential, and it's not something I can be proud of... what's the point?

This characteristic has been my downfall - my hamartia, as good old Shakespeare would say - in the workplace.

In my position I really strain myself. I have so much to do, so many things to prioritise, remember, chase up, complete, move, etc, that I am stretched out too thinly. The problem is that with a million things on my to-do list, I can never do anything to its full potential. Consequently, what I end up doing is putting all my efforts into two or three things, and letting minute details of other things which are just as important fall down by the wayside.

I won't go into detail, 1. because it's boring, and 2. because I'm not sure if it's considered "Private and Confidential" and I don't want to get into trouble, but I made some pretty hefty errors in the last few weeks.

It all came to a head towards the end of last week, though, when I came back from a brain-melting task which had taken me close to four hours, and it was 6:15pm (I'm meant to finish at 5:30, but never do), and I still had at least 6 things to action which would take me a good while. I was exhausted, my eyes hurt, I had a headache after squinting at letters and numbers, and I really, really just wanted to get home. I was so stressed, I wanted to cry.

"Go home" my colleagues said. "I can't" I said, "I still have loads to do!"

At this point I could have just happily put my head on the table and screamed in frustration. How had I let things pile up so much? How had I gotten so behind? Why do even the smallest tasks take so long? WHY am I still here with so much to do?

But I didn't, because I couldn't. So as the aforementioned colleagues gathered around my desk and had a look through my extensive to-do list, I sat there, torn between a state of being emotional numb and mildly hysterical, and tried to breathe as they told me how they were going to help me with the sticky situation I'd gotten myself into.

"This isn't me!" I wanted to shout, "I'm a hard-worker! I try my best at everything! All I want to do is be the best intern ever and not mess up! I can do better!"

I felt like I'd failed. I felt like I wasn't cut out for the job, even though I remindede myself I was chosen out out a rather large number of candidates.

But I hadn't actually failed. I'd just tried to do everything and I hadn't communicated my problem, which was as simple as: I'm too overwhelmed.

Even though I ask questions pretty much all the time, I never actually admitted that I had too much on my plate, because I thought it was expected of me to just do what I was given and get on with it. But the issue was that I'd gotten so many things to do, and gotten into such a state that I didn't know what to do, so was consequently at a loss at how to handle everything. All I'd needed to do was metaphorically stuck my hand up and say "Help me before I get majorly overwhelmed and want to curl up into a ball to let the magic fairies sort my life out."

It's a hard lesson to learn, but I understand that it's an important one. I let my pride get the better of me, and as cliched as it sounds, pride definitely comes before a fall. The workplace is a constantly challenging environment... no one expects you to be able to silently slot in and become a super robot whizz and never say a word. Not only am I learning new skills and techniques and adapting to new routines, I am learning to help myself and communicate that in fact, no, I can't do X, because I'm still devoting a lot of my time to Y.

On a lighter note, I am lucky to be attending Fashion Scout as part of London Fashion Week between the 13th and 17th of September, which I'm very excited about. My next post will hopefully be more positive! As far as I know, I'll be helping out backstage with models and assisting our make up artist with various things, and escorting guests around the site. Wish me luck, and thanks for reading!


1 comment

  1. This is really honest and great of you Sofie!!! The first few months are bound to be hard but at least now you know what to do when they get impossibly hard. I will remember this whenever I get round to getting one of those job things.
    Have a great time at fashion week, mixing work and pleasure, you deserve it!


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