Blog of Sara Jakša

Women, Programming, Writing and Fear of Being Imperfect

I have recently came across a TED talk Teach girls bravery, not perfection. There is a book coming out from this speaker in the same or similar topic. Or at least that is what one blog, that I had read said.

Anyway, it seems like it was an interesting topic, so I watched it. In that talk, they explain about the story of how women would delete their code, before asking for help. This reminded me of one of my tutoring experience. When she wanted to to teach her programming, but on the beginning, she was expecting me to impair knowledge on her.

Well, I have no idea, how to do this, so what I did was make her try her ideas. Because that gave me the insight into what she did not understand. But it was even more interesting, when in the later session, she was trying her ideas from the start.

Even though, I learned programming (something, she suggested was a solution to perfectionism), I think I am still a perfections. I mean, I have already spend hours creating a 20 minutes speech for Python Meetup, worrying if the speech is going to be interesting to the people. And I talk that as somebody who had over 50 speeches at Toastmasters and you can usually put me on the stage and I can talk for way more than 20 minutes. So I don't think that programming is the answer.

What I think is the answer is publishing. I mean this is the most wide sense. A person stops being such a perfectionist, when they release their work in the world and nothing bad happens.

I remember in 2012 and 2013, when I started to put my writings on the internet. At that time, I did not had a blog, though since then I have transferred my writing to this blog (the ones that I could find/recover). I was nervous and I spend way too much time in stress, what the people will think about it. Now, I can write a text like that, and I will not feel any pressure to put it out there in the world.

The same was with Toastmasters speeches. The first couple of times, I had spend a lot of time, thinking about how to approach it. On the last speeches, I don't think I prepared much for any of them. It was just normal.

The social skills are the same way. Doing something for the first time, be it asking for a favor or contacting somebody for the meeting, or anything else, it can be nerve wrecking (a lot worse than public speaking). But eventually, it becomes easier.

So I don't think there is just one thing, that would stop the fear of imperfections. No matter how programming might be seen as a magic pill. But it is doing the things that can stop that imperfection. And while I am not on that level yet, maybe eventually the meta skill will develop, and there is going to be a general lowering of this fear.