Perfectionism at it’s most… perfect…

I am very aware that many of the people who know me (my mum included) would probably have a good laugh at me calling myself a perfectionist.  Yes, clearly in my school days, they would have agreed.  I was never happy with an A.  It had to be an A+.  My handwriting was amazingly neat.  My assignments were double-spaced and beautifully presented.

Case in point. The very imperfect corner of the dining room.

These days, my house is most often messy.  I’m disorganised.  I leave *everything* until the last minute.  And yet I would still describe myself as a perfectionist.  This paragraph that I read recently over at The Modern Parent explains why:

For them [perfectionists] nothing is ever good enough and hence they are put off starting a project or attempting a new endeavour for fear of them not being able to execute it perfectly. The perfectionist is often left always waiting for the perfect conditions, the perfect timing, the perfection of skills etc. The perfectionist becomes an observer rather than a participant and therefore misses out on many challenges and learning experiences.

Here, the writer is referring to children and how we as parents can help the perfectionist child, but it really does describe me to a T!  I put off cleaning because I know the house won’t look perfect when I’m finished (of course it won’t – I have three small kids!), I put off redecorating.  I put off cooking, entertaining, craft projects, parties, blogging.  All because I’m waiting for that perfect time that will yield perfect results.

Not. Gunna. Happen.

Ever.

I don’t want to pass this on to my kids.  I want them to dive into new experiences with the knowledge that they might fail, or they might fall short of perfection.  I want them to be happy with the experience. The doing.  The learning.  The trying.

So, I’m going to start to try to just do it.  Just start something.  And be happy with done. Not perfect.  Just done.

First on the list was our tiny home office.  I’m planning to blog soon about how I get stuff done in a one metre by two metre space…  Would you class yourself a perfectionist?  Do you agree that perfectionism can be mistaken for laziness?

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13 thoughts on “Perfectionism at it’s most… perfect…

  1. Tam,

    Very interesting point. Maybe i’m a perfectionist. Though I don’t think Shaun will believe me if I tell him I am and that’s why I don’t cook or clean…..at all…… maybe i’ll get him to read your blog ;)

  2. Wow. Interesting post. Wait! I think I wrote it :). Seriously, in the early years of our marriage I had much trouble keeping the house organized. I was always discouraged with my efforts at overcoming the scatter. One day my young husband said, ‘Carolyn, you don’t have to start in the closets.’ Hmmm. Epiphany! So I stopped including the hidden places on my cleaning chore list. And over the years I have learned that much of my perfectionism was born of fear. I was shy and afraid from an early age. I desparately needed approval of some sort and sought it through doing everything I could to please others. I was the front-seater at school and at college. I graduated college with a 3.86 and did not enjoy the honors banquet because some participants had 4.0. Sick. Absolutely sick :). And now I recognize that I still have the tendency in the flesh to desire approval from others. But God continues to teach me that Faith and fear are incompatible. In the Christian perspective, I know it has to do with the following: Php 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.;’
    Again, good post.
    Carolyn (internetelias.wordpress.com)

    • Thanks for that lovely comment! Love the advice of your hubby – it’s something I’ve learnt over the years (not that it makes it easier to know that there is mess behind the doors, but I’m happy when my house is tidy to look at!)

  3. I think perfectionism is often disguised at laziness, and I see a lot of that in my second daughter.
    It’s a very hard thing to beat. I know I’m not a perfectionist in most things, but I am in some.
    Good luck with this; I really hope you get it beat. :)

    Oh and thanks for linking!

    • Love your linky Tuesdays, Jess! Perfectionism can be a wonderful thing – I hope all the good bits come out in your little girl!

  4. That comment definitely hits the nail on the head, and I’ve actually said that of myself many times. I am also ‘messy’, disorganised’ and probably ‘lazy’… but why? I’m a perfectionist too. It has to be perfect or well it usually just doesn’t get done.

    • Nat, I KNOW you’re a perfectionist because your work is always perfect! It’s just too tempting to leave the stuff that won’t make you feel good, isn’t it?

  5. I have a definite perfectionist streak… and it can be paralysing. I see it in my children so I now make a conscious effort to try anyway. The other day I tried to make a cake… and it crumbled. So I pushed the bits together into a mound, poured the icing on top and told the kids it was a mountain cake. Baby steps… but still progress :)

    • Oh, I LOVE the mountain cake! It’s so scary seeing ourselves reflected in our kids, isn’t it? Although, I’m sure they copy the good stuff too!

  6. Brilliant post. I am certainly a perfectionist – also one with a messy house most of the time. It is inhibiting and I don’t want to pass perfectionism on to my daughter, so I am right with you on getting rid of the shackles of perfectionism.

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