It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’ve been putting myself under a ton of stress over this one assignment in my Illustrator class. I’m so used to picking things up so quickly, this curve ball threw me for a loop.
The problem I’ve encountered brought up my “Inner McFly” voice. For those who haven’t read that previous post, McFly is that inner critic who tells you things aren’t good enough, blows things out of proportion, and eventually convinces you that everything you do isn’t good enough. If you’re a perfectionist, McFly takes the opportunity to shout at the top of his lungs, pointing out every flaw in what you’re doing.
That’s exactly what McFly’s been doing for the past couple of weeks with my Pen Tool assignment. Of course, as a result, I’ve become an expert on Edit/Undo and I’m behind on the actual project itself.
There’s this guy in another one of my classes I refer to as “Rain Man”. I apologize in advance if I offend anyone – it’s probably quite rude of me to refer to him by that nickname, but he really does have that “savant” trait (and I never use anyone’s real name in my blog). His artistic ability is beyond words – he creates some beautiful pieces. He has classic autism. I couldn’t tell you where his functioning range is, but I’d hazard a guess it’s somewhere between moderately high and very high.
Rain Man strives for an A on all of his assignments. This is his personal goal. If he achieves it, he treats himself by going to dinner at the Hyatt restaurant, downtown. He’ll proudly tell you about his personal goal if you ask him. I found out recently what happens if he does not make an A…
Rain Man was distraught. He approached me in class and asked me if the instructor would count off on his assignment because he forgot to turn in the grade sheet. I explained to him that it was a part of the requirement, but he should probably talk to the instructor. Rain Man said that if he lost 10 points because he forgot to turn in the grade sheet, he would have to punish himself by “making a withdrawal from his account and going to the mall.”
I know it sounds funny, but Rain Man wasn’t laughing. Rain Man was dead serious and quite upset. And, really, perhaps going to the mall is punishment for Rain Man. Regardless, McFly is talking to Rain Man, too. It’s the same voice, but one of us has different filters.
I saw how unhappy he was and knew anything I said would only serve to further frustrate him.
Although it was taken to an extreme, I saw my own behavior. It was like looking in a mirror. I saw the frustration and anger on his face and how he was beating himself up for not being perfect, I saw what I’ve been doing to myself over this Pen Tool assignment. The only difference is that I’m not giving myself retail therapy.
I made a decsion at that moment. McFly can go straight to hell. If I don’t make an “A” on this one assignment, it’s not the end of the world.