Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Black Hole of Perfectionism

Today it is cloudy, rainy, and full of the promises of fall. Very lovely.

I am paralyzed by indecision today. I hate these moments. I mean to act. I want to act. But I stall out in the deciding to act.

Self-defeat is a form of perfectionism. A really, really stupid form. It stops you before you even start. My children can be such perfectionists, as well. (Wonder who they get that from?). I hear from Mrs. Murphy, the Young Adult's Highland dance teacher - "He is so hard on himself. Such a perfectionist".

The type of perfectionist we tend to be does not equal perfect products. It displays itself more in the form of  never being happy with what we do. Nothing is ever "right" or "good enough" or "well done". It is always "bad", "needs work", "could have been better", or the perennial favorite - "okay". And it often leads to never starting something, because you already know it will not be the way you want it to be.

Now this type of perfectionism usually only applies to one's self. Yes, I tend to have fairly high expectations of other people, but I am much more forgiving of people's faults and mistakes - just not my own. Trust me - you can criticize me all you want, but you will never be as hard on me as I am on myself.

For example - when the Young Adult was 18 months old, he loved to draw. A month later, he put down his crayons and did not pick them up again until he was around 4! Why? He could not make his scribblings come out the way he saw it in his head. He would get so frustrated he would just scream! His preschool teachers finally gave up making him do art.

It is something I have had to fight all my life. That is okay - we all have the things we must work through. But I hate seeing the same thing in my children. I hate knowing that they (or at least some of them) will struggle with the same thing.

All my (unfinished) writing projects

I am learning a life lesson I am trying to pass on to my children - the lesson of "jumping in". Stop dithering, stop worrying, and just do it! It may go all wrong. There are a million questions - what if I offend someone? what if I say something stupid? what if the things I hope and dream never happen? You may totally bomb and suffer public embarrassment, but it will be brief. You may upset people at times.

Like Mrs. Frizzle says, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy."


1 comment:

jana said...

Good one, Christine. I never knew I was a perfectionist.