Posted by fxckfeelings on May 23, 2011Share This Post
Ambition is a blessing and a curse; a curse for most of those people who possess it, but a huge blessing for my business, which flourishes off the self-hate of said overly-ambitious people who believe they could have been contenders (if it wasn’t for themselves). Actually, the usual reason you can’t have your dream is that your equipment isn’t what it should be, and the best way to restore your faith in yourself is to accept the fact that your brain, while not a blessing, isn’t exactly a curse, either, and requires a set of expectations all its own.
I’m going back to school in the fall (for my master’s), and am really worried about the problem that plagued me in undergrad—academic OCD (which combines with general OCD, natch). Specifically, I over-cite EVERYTHING in my papers, because I have this terror of plagiarizing—to the point where my papers are hard to read, and the citing is ridiculous. I haven’t been out of undergrad very long, and I know I need to go back to school to achieve my career goals, but I’m DREADING the papers—any thoughts on how to prepare myself to deal with this very specific anxiety?
If you want an easy way to manage your over-citation compulsion (OCC), here it is; stop making too many citations! Stop it! Bad! Hope it works, and we don’t accept personal checks.
As always, the problem with looking for easy answers to your problem is that you’ll assume that all you need to do to get better is give yourself a kick in the pants or share your feelings with a therapist. It’s not true, and thinking like that will make you feel like a failure (and, if you’re lucky/buy answers like the one above, an idiot).
Long story short, your problem is here to stay (citation: this site, on a weekly basis) and, as long as you’ve got to write papers, managing it is going to be painful.
It’s painful to manage OCC/OCD because, basically, you’ve just got to stop yourself from footnoting, no matter how much you dread being seen as a plagiarist. You can work with a tutor to strip out the footnotes, but, basically, when it comes to handing in the paper, if you trim the footnotes, you live with dread.
Medication might help, but it comes at a price, literally. The serotonin re-uptake inhibitor antidepressants sometimes reduce OCD urges, but they may cause side-effects, particularly because they need to be taken in relatively high doses. If you’re sufficiently stalled or tormented, you may decide they’re worth a try, and a doctor can guide you through the process.
Accept that OCD is OCD (as is its new cousin, OCC) and focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, rather than the symptoms, which didn’t stop you from getting through college or considering a masters.
Writing papers takes you longer than other people and causes you more anxiety, but you do it. Embrace the dread that comes with writing as part of your illness, not your doom, and above all, keep writing. So don’t stop, write more, good! We prefer payment in cash.
“I hate the way writing papers turns me into a neurotic nut, but that’s the way I’m made. Eventually, maybe I can find a job that doesn’t require academic writing. Meanwhile, I’m proud that I’m willing to commit the (extra) time and ignore the pain.”
I like my job, but I just can’t seem to get ahead. Everyone who started with me 5 years ago has been promoted, but not me. The boss likes me, and I’m good with clients, but I just can’t stay organized or complete long assignments, so I miss deadlines. It’s the same reason I underperformed in school. “You’re great, and we like having you, but you don’t seem to be realizing your potential.” No one’s going to fire me, but they can’t imagine me becoming a manager, so I’m stuck where I am, being a lovable loser. My goal is to get ahead.
Most times, the reason that someone consistently falls short of their potential, particularly after they’re older than 20, is that their potential is shorter than people think it is.
You know better than anyone else whether you’re slacking off because you don’t care. Most people who contact me, however, care a lot (or they wouldn’t contact me). It’s nice that you care…but that means you’re fucked.
If you care and, after all these years and strong motivation, you’re not moving up, then you can’t, probably because some form of ADD makes it harder for you to get things done and stay organized. You may excel in relationships and on-your-feet projects, but get nowhere once your seat hits the chair.
If that’s true, then you’re not a failure; you suffer from achievement retardation, and there’s no point in blaming yourself or comparing yourself to others. If you want to get ahead, you’ll have to use special tricks to get there, as well as aim to do work that suits your mental equipment.
That’s probably what you’re doing; you’re using your strengths and managing your weaknesses, which is why you’ve still got the job. If winning a managerial job is what you really want, then get yourself a coach and see if you can learn enough tricks to keep up with the job description. Remember, though, that your goal isn’t to keep up with the others; it’s to see if their kind of work really suits you.
If it doesn’t, don’t put yourself down for being different; be glad you’ve managed to hold on this long, since unemployment is usually your version of the special Olympics. Make the most of what you’ve got and remember, work is just work, and potential doesn’t come before character.
“It’s frustrating not to get promoted and make more money, but I know I work hard and do what I can, and that’s what matters. What I do is harder, because I have to carry the frustration of feeling like a misfit and still do the best I can.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname