Yes, this is a bit of a rant on part of the internship report I have to write.
Part of the hopelessness-inducing mandatory documentation that comes with the internship (on the school side of things) is a self-reflection report. If there’s one thing I find harder than learning about the negative sides of me as a person and my actions (that’s what I get for not ding any “you’re an idiot, here’s why” monologues in my younger years), then it’s having to write about my positive aspects. Yes, I intended to write “positive” there. Of course, as mentioned, dealing with the negative aspects is hard, and I’m actually rather proud of the positive ones. But having to write about them is an exercise in rope-walking.
Forcing someone to write about their good qualities puts them in a really odd position. They usually don’t want to undersell themselves, running the risk of seeming mediocre. But if they kick it up a notch it’s very likely they’ll be seen as tooting their own horn. Of course you don’t want that either, coming off as boasting makes you look like an asshole.
Similarly, the same sort of goes for negative attributes. Spend too little attention on them and they’ll think you can’t see flaws in yourself. Spend too much time on them, and you’re either overanalyzing your mistakes or just terribly incompetent.
Luckily, they expect (and require) me to provide proof in the form of feedback from colleagues, which makes saying “people like me” a bit more believable. It also gives me something to base my writing off, rather than just going “I think I’m good at this, but that is still hard”. I feel the tight-rope effect is still there, but there’s not much I’m going to do about it other than watch my words carefully.
Relatedly, I’m all for self-reflection, but when it’s mandatory it’s suddenly awfully empty and meaningless.