6 Reasons Why Being “Detail-Oriented” is Detrimental to My Mental Health


There's the forest!  Or, wait, that's the trees.  But you have to have trees to make a forest.  Is this like the chicken or the egg argument?
There’s the forest! Or, wait, that’s the trees. But you have to have trees to make a forest. Is this like the chicken or the egg argument?

by Tuxyso is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

1. It’s time-consuming.

Time consuming doesn’t sound so bad.  Life is time-consuming.  Perhaps I have stated things a bit more dramatically than I should have.  Perhaps an example would clear things up.

While writing this blog, I have erased and rewritten the entire thing, albeit short as you now see it, exactly seven times.  The first version just sounded like I was whining (funny, that’s how this paragraph is starting to sound, too), relentlessly bemoaning my normal human life that includes things like errands and cleaning and cooking and clutter.  The second version led me to a photo search to illustrate my point, which then led me to follow the found photo to its original source.  While at the original source, I scoured through the site to ensure I was going to attribute the photo to the correct individual.  However, the site was so cluttered and unclear that I couldn’t be sure and had to immediately abandon its usage.  This also led me on a side venture of looking for a new place to find photos for use.

And now, RIGHT NOW, I have written something like 225 words trying to describe to you accurately why I have erased and rewritten this asinine post seven times…

Moving on, then.

2. It eats my creativity for its breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Every well-written sentence I type out, every emotion or experience I can translate in to written form, gives me great satisfaction and a fulfilled contentment…for about 3 seconds.  Then I decide to read it again and check for errors.  Everyone is human and no one is invulnerable to a typo here or there, I tell myself.  As I read through what was moments ago and very satisfying product of my mind, I begin to change and edit and restate and clarify.  This should be a good thing, reassuring to know that I can find and correct my own mistakes before I publicly humiliate myself.  Instead, I take something that was heartfelt, raw, sometimes beautiful and I punctuate and edit until it bleeds and cries for mercy.  Take that, creativity.


 “Sad” by Jon C is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0

3. It makes mountains out of mouse turds.

Enough said.

4. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

Remember hearing that growing up?  Well, I have been silent a lot in my twenty-nine years.  Not because I’m a mean person that likes to pick on people and call them terrible names.  That would be too obvious, of course, and maybe somehow fixable with enough therapy.  No, I am silent because I have a hard time faking it.

Before your mind wanders too far into the gutter, let me explain myself.  Have you ever been in the situation where your friend calls you up and you can hear the thousand watt smile through the phone because of the extreme level of enthusiasm emanating from the other end?  These are exciting moments.  It’s friendship building to be able to share your friend’s excitement over good news.  So, what’s the problem?  As soon as your friend yells through the phone that she is engaged, you are supposed to squeal in delight right along with her.  That’s pretty difficult to do when you immediately think of all the little details, like she met him in a bar and then had to take him home (to his mother’s trailer) because he didn’t have a car or friends or money for a cab and he thinks “going pro” as a UFC fighter is the right career path for him despite being thirty-five and overweight (gotta keep the dream alive) and, I think you get the point.

5. No one likes you.

I’m not referring back to #4.  Most people make more friends at work than, let’s say, the grocery store, or (oh please God, no) in public bathrooms.  You, by you I mean me, share so much with your coworkers, like goals and setbacks and experiences that it is only natural to develop bonds.  It can make for a good friendship outside of work, too, sometimes.  What could possibly go wrong in this scenario?

The boss has noticed my “amazing attention to detail”, which at the time this is brought to my attention, I smile and puff up a bit internally and think that this is a positive turn of events.  Maybe now I’ll finally start getting the recognition I deserve for all the hard work I continuously do.

The reality of this situation means that all those nice coworkers and potential friends are now going to hate me.  The boss has decided the best use of my time is essentially quality control.  Now, instead of sharing experiences such as drinking a cocktail after work while my coworker implies the boss is perpetually menstruating or something to that effect, I am now the object of their adolescent-level attempts to relieve stress, the butt of every joke.

By GRPH3B18 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Own work” by GRPH3B18 licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

I spend eight hours daily going through everyone’s work to make sure that it was done correctly, and, of course, I discover over and over and over during my eight-hour days that most assuredly, the work was not done correctly.  Now I must point it out to the person who made the error and oversee their efforts to correct this egregious error.

This doesn’t exactly put me on the short list for parties.

6. Is that the forest? Or the trees?

Sometimes the details are so obvious that it is difficult to step back and see the big picture.  It’s like looking at a trillion brush strokes instead of appreciating overall effect, which is a work of art.

Public Domain

Après la pluie. After the rain. Dessin d’enfant (ma fille Émilie ) a 7 ans licensed under public domain

Wait, that wasn’t the right file…


“Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh licensed under Public Domain

The point I’m trying to make is sometimes I get lost in the little things.  Take my recent dive into healthy living as an example.  I have lost twenty-eight pounds, eight inches from around my waist, and I still despair when I weigh myself and the scale hasn’t budged.  EIGHT inches, gone.  And I’m upset about a pound?

Some days I repeat to myself, like I’m some Tibetan monk meditating on my mantra that will bring me to a new plane of existence and enlightenment, “There is no forest without the trees”.

And trees are nice.  Maybe my life isn’t so bad after all.

Ugh.  I see a typo…


By myself – Bilboq (own work (crop from own photo)) [Public domain]


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