Perfectionism: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable. Especially: the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness
Perfectionism and I have a love/hate relationship. I hate feeling like I have to do everything right all the time, but oh how I love that sweet euphoric feeling that comes when something is done right.
Perfectionism should be listed, not as a ‘disposition’, but as a disease. There should be medication for this!! And Meetings!! Hello, my name is Kayla, and I’m a perfectionist.
Okay, maybe the medication thing is going a bit too far... but the meetings might not be such a bad idea.
It has taken me a lot of years to realize that there isn’t a right way for things to be done; there isn’t a right way for life to be lived. If there was then there wouldn’t be such a thing as adventure or creativity, because when something is done the ‘right way’ we already know how it’s going to finish and what it will achieve. There would be nothing new, because the ‘right way’ would have already been found, written down, and perfected.
There are many syndromes to perfectionism, doing things ‘right’ is only the most evident. There is also procrastination (because if I can’t do it right then I might as well avoid it at all costs), an unwillingness to try, and, my favourite, an attempt to do it all. The real problem with all of these is that they go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other, and in the end you tell yourself that you need to do everything and you need to do it better.
I’m reading a book titled bittersweet, by Shauna Niequist. Good book.
There are a couple of things in this book that inspired me regarding my perfectionism, and I would like to share them with my fellow perfectionists.
‘It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about’ – A friend named Denise.
That hit me. I can’t do it all. I’m not supposed to do it all. I wasn’t made to do it all.
If we were made to do it all then we wouldn’t need our family or friends. To be able to do it all would lead to a very unfulfilling, lonely life. Don’t you think? The more I turn these words over in my mind the more I come to the conclusion that a person needs to decide what they truly want out of life.
I don’t mean the big picture; I’m talking about the little things in life. I would love to have a spotless house. Sure I could come home from work every night and clean to my heart’s content to get it and keep it that way... but I also want to finish reading my book collection and visit with my family and friends. I rarely have time for both. For the average person it may not be a hard question to ask at all, but for me its life or death. I know that no matter what I will feel guilty about which ever option I chose. Maybe perfectionism isn’t a disease; it’s a curse.
Miss Shauna made a list. I love lists. I have lists all over the place; in my house, on my computer, in my car, on my phone. They’re so organized and anal-retentive, not to mention fun! If you’re not a list maker, I feel it is my obligation to inform you that you are missing out. Unless of course, you are a perfectionist who doesn’t need one more thing to do, if this is the case disregard that last statement.
So here we go;
Things I Do:
I strive to keep God at my center; as my center. I live by Him and for Him. I believe in his Son, Jesus, and continuously try to focus my all on the Holy Trinity. Spirit, Soul, Body, Heart, Mind, Will. I pray without ceasing and have a continuous conversation with God going at all times. I read the bible, worship through life and music, and try to listen and act on what God would have me do. I work hard to become a better person with each new day. I read; to learn and to escape. I day dream all the time; I cook up stories and go on constant adventures. If I didn’t read or day dream I would lose myself. I often forget piano is just as important to me as my books and dreams, but I always manage to come back to it. I hate working, but I do it anyways (as most of the population I’m sure). I see the world through God’s eyes and the lens of my camera. I constantly try to learn more of both; I take my camera out as much as possible to keep it that way. I give my prayers, time, and talents to close friends and family, and I offer love, understanding, and friendship to most others through fb and periodic coffee meets. I am involved in a book study, a church, and a family. I strive not to be a perfectionist, but end up being a major procrastinator instead, much to my dismay. I stop everything for a good movie; I’m addicted. I try to exercise at least 5 times a week, eat the right things, and stay away from sugar. I will not give up my coffee. (Maybe that should move to the next list...)
Believe it or not I had to sleep on it before I could make this next list. It’s easy to say what you do. There are many things I didn’t put on the last list that I do. Things that I consider basic, like feeding my cat. Obviously I’m going to feed my cat, so why put it on a list? Well, it should have gone on the list because it’s something that I do no matter what else needs to be done. But things I don’t do? How can there be things that I don’t do when I should be able to do everything!?! And with that thought there came the realisation of why I made the second list. To remind myself that I don’t need to do everything; because that would be impossible.
Things I Don’t do:
I don’t keep a spotless house. I aim to keep a clean countertop and no horrible smells in the house. Do I wish I could have a spotless house? Of course!! But right now you get a clean counter, no smells, and once a week I clear off my tables and my floors. I don’t separate my laundry. I don’t make my bed in the morning. I’ve never seen much point to that one; except in the summer time when my dirty cat likes to sleep in it, emphases on in. I don’t bake and I rarely cook. I love both, but there’s no time or need in my life right now. I don’t scrapbook and I don’t cut my pictures up. It feels like I’m killing my pictures when I do. Plus it’s cluttered. I don’t do cluttered. Don’t take that the wrong way; my house is a cluster of clutter. It drives me insane!! But I have nowhere else to hide things, so I deal with it without adding to it... with things like scrapbooks. I try not to spend time with funsuckers or self centered people; I fear for their safety when I do. So instead I send up a quick prayer for them and walk away as fast as I can. I also won’t go around people who make me feel like less then I am. It may take me a bit, but once the realization of who those people are comes, I’m out of there. I don’t hang around people I dislike, not because of them, but because I know I’ll say something horrible and it’s not fair to them. They didn’t do anything... usually.
I don’t always say the right thing. I try, but what I say isn’t always taken how I mean it and I don’t understand in what way it has been taken in order to explain how I meant it. Hence why I prefer fb to phone calls; it’s safer. I don’t do crowds, I don’t do loud noise, (unless it’s good music), and I definitely do not do both together. I don’t arrive on time. It’s not a conscious carelessness or a lack of trying; I simply never finish anything as quickly as I think I will, and forget everything else so I am required to run back into the house at least once, but usually twice.
As painful as it was to write these lists, and as much as I try to perfect them every time I look at them, it was worth it. These are my daily reminders of what is and is not important to me. They remind me that I don’t have to do it all; after all, I’m only human.