I’m a person that observes and reflects a lot on the things that I do (sometimes too much), which helps me grow as a person, boyfriend, co-worker, and social person… This is a tough exercise because I sometimes face uncomfortable truths that I disregarded for a long time. Maybe, because I didn’t want to accept them or because I was not aware of any harm they’d cause later on in my life.
At some point, ignoring them goes no further because they start impacting my life in other ways. For example, I’ve been a competitive person since I was young. Being competitive is good, but taken to the limit, it makes things horrible. It brings me anxiety because I’m always trying to find a better version of myself, or better than the people around me, and that’s not always possible. The same competitiveness that allowed me to get excellent grades at the University wants me to run faster, longer distances, or be smarter every single day. My life ends up being race with myself and with others. Insane, isn’t it?
In this blog post, I’d like to talk through some of those weaknesses that I’ve found in my personality, mostly in the context of work. Some of you might think that I’m crazy sharing weaknesses on the Internet, a place where we barely talk about those things, but I believe we should do it more often, and fight back the status quo of the Internet being a place where everyone needs to make up a persona. I don’t want you to read about my a false persona that looks perfect, I want you to know me, Pedro Piñera. A person with strengths and weaknesses who opens himself to others by sharing his thoughts, experiences, and work.
I’ll start off by talking about my competitiveness. As I mentioned, it’s not necessarily bad, yet I take it to an extreme sometimes. For example, I work too much and bootstrap open source projects to keep up with the pace others around me have. I see them writing blog posts, publishing open source projects or being active on Twitter and I feel I should be doing the same to stay in the loop, to show that I’m a competitive person like everyone around me. I turn my profession into a race, where I happened to see what other people do as threats. It might be just me, but I feel that there’s some competitiveness in our industry and my personality drags me into being part of it. Do you know that feeling of needing to show off often to get some recognition that makes you feel good? It keeps happening to me, and I feel bad because I’m aware of it happening. Here are some actions that I’m already taking to remain competitive but in a healthy manner:
- Stop comparing myself to others. Be mindful when I consider something a threat and change made-up thought.
- Stop looking at favorites, likes or numbers of stars on my social profiles or open source projects. Get comfortable with the ego not being fed frequently.
- Distance me from environments that foster toxic competitiveness.
- Make my projects more inclusive, show more empathy, and prevent any kind of bias from influencing my interactions with other folks.
Continuing with what I’d consider another weakness, I’m a short-term person who tackles things as they show up. I’m terrible at defining long-term goals that I can head towards. I can be learning React, or working on a project X just for the sake of doing it, not because I need it for anything. Since I don’t define long-term goals that I strive to, I’m a disaster at planning and prioritizing my days. That clutters my brain, and I end up doing multi-tasking or holding many things in a mental backlog of things to do next. I’ve tried bringing a todo app into my life that I can use to plan in short and long-term goals, but I ended up not using it at all. Sometimes I feel that I should just let myself go with the flow and enjoy the things as they come. Nevertheless, that makes it hard to have a sense of progress and achievement. How do I know what I’ve achieved in the last month if I’ve been doing things of different nature one after another? These are the things that I’m doing to tackle this weakness:
- Narrow down the projects that I’m involved in into one or two. This helps with not doing a lot of multi-tasking.
- Give todo apps a try again. I’m currently using Todoist.
- When something comes up, put in in the context of a long-term goal, and disregard it if it doesn’t help to achieve it.
On the social side of things, I’m a little assertive. If I disagree with something I sometimes keep it for myself instead of speaking up. There are some scenarios where shutting up is the right way to go, but when done often affects my self-esteem. I think I do it in certain occasions because I’m too worried about other people’s opinions: what will they think about my poor English accent?, what if our relationship gets affected if I told them what they think? What if my opinion is not valid at all in the equation? I’d like to be less worried in those scenarios and just jump into the water, but I find it really hard. I think my perfectionism takes an essential role in those situations when I don’t do things if I can’t be sure they’ll be correctly done. I feel a bit ashamed about this, but I’ve avoided phone calls in Germany to not confront myself with someone trying to speak to me in German. Also, I’ve avoided sharing my opinions on discussions because the majority had a different opinion on the matter. Have you ever been there before? Here’s what I’m doing to overcome those weaknesses:
- Cautiously share my views instead of keeping them for myself and regret later.
- Share uncomfortable situations with my girlfriend, and let her prove me that there’s no reason to worry.
- If I start overthinking before doing something that scares me, stop the thoughts immediately and instead go ahead.
These are some of the weaknesses that I’m becoming better at, and that I’m glad to share with you. I’m a little ashamed, especially when everyone around me seems so perfect and with no weaknesses at all. I’d like you to know that I’m not a perfect person, no one is, and that I have my own flaws too that I need to tackle. Hopefully, I can even get some help from you, I’d appreciate it a lot. I also hope this encourages more people to share their weaknesses without any sort of complex.