Use your flaws to your advantage

Well that sucked.

This is the first time I sat down to type since I left for Savannah a month ago. Wait, that’s not true. I tried writing three or four times this week. Each time I stood back up, totally revolted by the idea of anything sounding like work.

I haven’t done that since I had a job I hated.

You know how when you eat something bad, you can’t eat that thing for like, three years? That’s how I felt about work this week.

In the month of May, I cooked, photographed, and edited 70 recipes.

And wrote 16 articles.

And a tutorial.

And a website.

It was brutal. On the 31st, I turned my last article in and went straight to the pool. On the 1st, I took a day off. Then I took two.

It’s been a week and I don’t think I worked more than eight hours in June. Not per day—total. Unless a task HAD to be done, I didn’t do it.

The first week of May, I was contracted to photograph an entire magazine issue.

Half a dozen people asked me how I landed that gig. And since people keep asking me, I might as well tell all of you at once:

I scored that project because I was the only one who would take it.

I had two hours to think about it. TWO. The project came with an impossible deadline attached to it. I countered with an unrealistic, albeit possible one. The editor said yes. I signed. I got the recipes the next day.

It wasn’t like I had the month of April to prepare. The editor ran the project by me a week before he sent me the contract. With the deadline so tight, he told me point-blank there was a 50/50 chance the whole thing wouldn’t happen.

That’s how I got it. Because no person who respected their sanity or general wellbeing would ever agree to it.

Let me explain how I’m wired.

I’m an extremist in everything I do. Wanna watch Netflix? Cool. Order takeout because we’re watching the entire fourth season of Girlfriends Guide to Divorce in one day. Wanna go for a run? I’ll do you one better. Let’s go for a run, then do a Cut Seven class, and, hold on a minute—I think there’s a Spartan race we can sign up for.

I have never taken longer than 48 hours to finish a pint of ice cream and I will never tackle a project following a methodological approach. Milestones? Pah-lease. WHAT is the POINT of even STARTING a project if I’m not going to have a mental breakdown about it right before it’s due?

It is a trait I possessed since my first homework assignment and something I quite honestly HATE ABOUT MYSELF to present day.

And that, my friends, is why I was the perfect person to pull off this project. Because under deadlines no one else would agree to, my complete disregard for balance is the perfect fit.

I only cried once. I consider that as much of a success as hitting the deadline.

I packed seven bags of ingredients, prepped food, props, and my camera and Ubered across town to photograph eight “grilling” recipes on my friend Keena’s rooftop.

I consider myself a bomb-ass cook, but I am no grill master. It took two calls to Keena to figure out how to turn the grills ON. After two hours’ of grilling, sweating my ass off, and manufacturing a small hut out of lawn furniture to block the sunlight, I came to the realization that photographing atop a rooftop was a no-go.

I packed eight recipes’ worth of cooked food back the way they came, called a second Uber, and took the elevator down from Keena’s roof. I clung my camera to my chest with my right arm, and stacked seven bags shoulder-to-wrist with my left.

I was halfway across the lobby when I felt the last bag break.

Remember when I said the number one question I got asked last month was how I scored the project? Well, here’s the second: Do you get reimbursed for groceries?

No. No, I don’t.

And as I watched an entire bag worth of lamb burgers go rolling past the front desk, I burst into tears.

I’m sure my Uber driver has dealt with many-a-sobbing-white-girl at 2AM. He wasn’t as well versed in crying white girls at two in the afternoon. He played me YouTube videos the whole ride back to get me to stop crying. Then he showed me pictures of his two-year-old daughter. To his credit, she was adorable.

When I got back to my apartment, I used tweezers to pluck off roughly half a dozen strangers’ hair off those burgers. The resulting photograph was one of my favorites from the project.

greek burgers

After this photo was taken, those burgers went straight into the trash.

When it comes to how you work and operate, I’m sure there are several things you’d love to change.

Maybe you wish you had more patience. Perhaps you daydream about being a morning person. Or maybe you wish you could stop getting so bored so easily.

Instead of ripping on yourself for these things, use them to your advantage. If you’re the person who has zero patience, you’re probably the only reason Susan ever puts her damn hand down so the conference call can end on time. If you’re not a morning person, congrats! You’re the one getting shit done while everyone else is drinking or asleep. And if you’re constantly bored, you’re probably the one everyone else relies on for new ideas.

Instead of wasting time trying to change yourself—because really, if it hasn’t happened yet you should really give up—find a way to use those supposed flaws to your advantage.

I landed a project I might not have gotten otherwise because high-cortisol is how I function. May was a nightmare. But if I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure doubling my timetable would have made that great an impact. This way, I just cut out the three weeks’ spent procrastinating, jumping straight into the cram stage.

And now, I have to go write an article that’s due today.

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For All the F Words
You have flaws. You f-up on a daily basis. And that should be ok.