27 Mar 2012
I often find myself in absolute awe of my colleagues' work. But when I was still new to web development, it wasn't just the work I was in awe of… it was the people too. I put those folks on pedestals. And the fact that I only “knew” these people online made it easier to idealize them and even hold them to standards of perfection.
It wasn't until I attended my first conference that I realized how this mentality was hurting me. I was terrified to introduce myself to people I admired and genuinely wanted to know. And because I believed these people were somehow better than me, I wasn't pursuing opportunities to challenge myself and be a better designer and developer.
Over time, I also began to suspect that this mentality hurts the people being idealized. The negative tone in our industry — that doesn't seem to be getting better — can't be blamed entirely on the easy firing off of casual insults on Twitter. I wonder if it's because of idealization and expectations of perfection. When someone is flawed, or makes a mistake or simply doesn't meet someone else's expectations, why is the response anger and name-calling?
Maybe it's my age and the glorious maturity that comes with it, but today, I'm more interested in connecting with my colleagues than putting them on pedestals and judging them when they fall off those pedestals. It not only makes it easier for me to understand them, their work and their decisions, but it makes it easier for me to have meaningful relationships with people I admire. And those relationships have given me far more — both professionally and personally — than my youthful idealization ever did.