Let’s Talk about Accomplishment Dysmorphia. - Concept Me

Let’s Talk about Accomplishment Dysmorphia.

August 15th, 2023 / 3 min read

The story of the over-accomplished young kid that is told they would excel at everything and is always striving to do their best only to end up being an overworked, overwhelmed, burnt out adult is one that we are witnessing greatly recently. Many people with high skills, great talent and an uncanny ability to create beautiful work merely look at their work and believe it is constantly lacking.

This scenario is mostly true in the industry that we operate within. When high end luxury is your line of business, the standards are incredibly high. Already a naturally-born perfectionist, Nina Parvaresh (CME’s Founder) found her perfectionism mutate and grow as she delved deeper into the business. Project after project, crafted design after crafted design, thousands of hours of work and dozens of people working together to get the work done, Nina still manages to pause and reflect and believe that all the work that everyone compliments is in fact a big failure in her own eyes.

Working in the luxury standard also means that the stakes are much higher than in regular environments. The field we work in is so ahead of itself, so constantly pushed forwards by the beautiful creations of craftsmen and suppliers that it is impossible to reach a point where you are finally satisfied with the end product. The toxic thought of ‘It isn’t good enough’ is constantly floating on the surface. This, in itself, has brought about some form of strange accomplishment dysmorphia, where nothing that is done (no matter how well the job was executed, no matter how happy the client is) is satisfactory to the designer and the creator of the space.

To delve a little deeper, when becoming in touch with oneself as an entrepreneur and when you realize that you sleep 3 hours a day, you take planes for 24 hours site visits, you interact with ten thousand people, you hear about actual talents getting screwed over by others, your industry’s reality begins to truly impact your perception of yourself. You begin to notice that the bigger your success, the more you begin to believe that you are unsuccessful because you are so concerned about delivering the perfect project that you begin to lose sight of the actual bigger picture.

Disclaimer: this is representative of the conversations we at the office have had with Nina, reflecting on her process. This is not necessarily true of other designer entrepreneurs. The dysmorphia becomes even worse when you meet people who have accomplished so much, who seem to have a grip on their business whilst also living fulfilling personal lives, who have someone to rely on and projects that bring them worldwide publicity. You tend to begin drawing comparisons between your state and theirs. This is not even a comparison of talents, but rather a comparison based on their performance in life overall. 

As Nina said, ‘It becomes about seeing how maybe I shouldn’t be so obsessed with every tiny detail, so connected and attached to the tiniest decision – maybe that’s what has made me forget the bigger picture of things, allowed me to remove myself from a real life and instead live and breathe this job.’

Suffice it to say, comparison is toxic. Accomplishment dysmorphia is even more toxic, because it has every ability to make you bitter, reshape your perception in a negative context, makes you doubt every decision you make and ensures that you forget the end goal that you actually started working for in the first place.

In Nina’s case, her career was on such a whirlwind that she realized her dysmorphia stemmed from an inability to take time and truly recognize what she had accomplished across the years. Recently, Nina had decided to leave the KSA market and when she did, she was in such a rush to sign the next project, chase the next thrill of a project that she never paused and took in deeply what she had accomplished for 13 years in Saudi Arabia – she couldn’t appreciate what she’d built.

In a nutshell, dysmorphia stems from a belief of never being good enough, constantly seeking unattainable perfection. To exemplify that, Nina had always believed that she was a certain size (clothing wise). She perceived herself in a way most people didn’t really see her as. Going shopping one day (a rate activity for Nina), she was confronted by the fact that she was in fact her ideal size, the size she wanted to be, but had never realized it until the Shop Assistant handed her the right fit.

So, in conclusion, maybe calm down a little. Take a minute, breathe a little and look at what you’ve done. We gave the same advice to Nina! Even though she recognizes her success, understands what she has done and what she can do, there’s still a little dysmorphia there. And the fact that it never feels enough has just proven to be an indicator of something that’s lacking. But that’s a story for another day. Affirm yourself and seek no other validation!

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