Tuesday, April 21, 2015

1. You're not satisfied unless you see results. You could be scrambling to meet a huge deadline at work or just trying to make the perfect fruit tart. If your dish doesn't look like it should be in a cooking magazine, you're not satisfied and feel like nothing was accomplished.
2. A "solid effort" or "putting your best foot forward" means nothing. You can't just get over a failure by thinking, "Oh well, we still came close and X, Y, and Z were still strong." You'll just obsess over why you didn't hit your mark, and how you can hit it next time.
3. Also, "good enough" is not a concept you understand. Everything with your name on it must be exceptional. You will pull all-nighters when you're writing a proposal for work. You will search obsessively for weeks to put together the perfect costume for your kids. When you have a vision, there's no letting go of it.
4. Little things bother you all the time. Like how your colleague didn't follow up with that vendor like she said she would, or how your new towels came in the mail and they look a shade lighter than they did online, or how about when your old white T-shirts are darker than your new white T-shirts.
5. You procrastinate. Perfectionists have a tendency to procrastinate, research suggests, because they put things off until they feel they know the very best way to do something, which is terrible because you then end up cramming a big project into a short period of time. And once you do finally get going, you can't stop until your project is flawless.
6. You feel like a slacker when you've spent all day trying to get one thing perfect instead of finishing a lot of things. Sure, you set out to cross five things off your to-do list but only crossed off one thing because you were lost in the details. The day feels like a waste.
7. When you tell people you're lazy, they think you're crazy. You only feel lazy because sometimes your perfectionistic tendencies and extremely high expectations make you do things slower than you planned to. And when you don't meet your goals, you feel like you didn't do enough.
8. You can obsess over a mistake for days or more. Admit it, you still remember the mistake you made in a piano recital when you were 12.
9. You get irrationally bothered about random things when they are not how they "should" be. Like when you're in someone's kitchen looking for a glass and there is clearly a logical place for drinking glasses, but that place is occupied by oven mitts instead. WHY?!
10. Also, normal people's clutter = your catastrophe.
11. But your "mess" makes perfect sense to you. And, if someone disrupts it, you cannot deal.

RP response by Fifi, la folle:)

As a recovering perfectionist, I feel compelled to comment on this article upon which I stumbled this morning. If you look at how I phrased the first sentence of my comment, you will see I haven’t recovered completely. Such language as “compelled” indicates that there is urgency and drive behind perfectionist’s actions. We don’t just decide to do something; we are driven to do things. If you notice the correct grammatical structure of the sentence, you will recognize that perfectionists believe that everything has a “right way,” and that is the way we must operate. Perfectionists are not motivated; we are driven.

So, you might ask, how have you recovered? When I began writing my Memoirs (a wonderful idea that backfired), the title of my book (never published) told the whole story:  “Good Enough.” Based on my comments, you see it wasn’t and I’m still not.
The big “however,” however:) is that I no longer beat myself up for not reaching the impossible perfect standards set for me as a child, adopted for me as an adult and haunting me as a mature? senior. 

I will comment on each of the 11 points in this article. Who decided on 11 points? Everyone knows you only propose three points or 10, never 11.

  1. A “recovering perfectionist” (RP) learns to be satisfied with imperfection; we even strive for imperfection. For example, if I have dusted the bedroom, and later in the day, I see I’ve missed a spot on the dresser, I smile and say, “Good Enough.”
  2. The RP no longer obsesses over not hitting the mark. We aim for the mark, and if he don’t quite hit it, we say, “Hey, I got out there, I did my best, and that’s good enough.”
  3. RPs still scrutinize all performance, but instead of saying, “I should have done it this way, or I could have made it better by x, y or z,” we say “Look at all I did right. That part was better than the last time. Yay, me!”
  4. Little things don’t bother us as much. Of course, we are conditioned to imperfection bothering us--ours and others’. We have learned, however, that people distance themselves from those who are always striving for perfect. We believe if they expect perfection from themselves, they will expect it of us. No one wants to be judged by impossible standards. 
  5. RPs know why we procrastinate. Because we recognize our propensity for putting off what we can’t perfect, we delve right into the project with the attitude--we can do this, and B+ is good enough.
  6. I have to admit I still feel like a slacker when I accomplish little in a given day. After reading Arianna Huffington’s philosophy, “Naps are performance tools,” I decided that accomplishing little to nothing is a good thing, and it is a “refueling” day.
  7. I never tell people I’m lazy. I’m not. I don’t rush to return my library books, and I don’t cook with more than 3 ingredients, but I don’t consider that lazy. I figure that’s someone else’s perfectionist arena, not mine.
  8. Yes, I still remember mistakes I made when I was five. I consider those endearing stories, and I love to share them with my friends who think I’ve never had to work at anything to succeed. People love to hear about our weaknesses, because those weaknesses mean we’re human--a trait perfectionists cannot grasp.
  9. I purposely put things where they don’t belong to remind myself that I’m not perfect, and I should not strive for perfection--it’s bad for my health and my sanity.
  10. I don’t do clutter. When I see others’ clutter, I think to myself, “They are probably brilliant and are so busy thinking about whatever their “thing” happens to be, they can’t be bothered with the inane art of organization.” The superlative terms such as “horrible, crisis, catastrophe, devastation” are no longer part of my vocabulary. I save those for life-threatening illnesses and natural disasters.

I can’t do eleven. Sorry.