What is a perfectionist? The definition of a perfectionist according to Merriam-Webster is a person who “regards anything short of perfection as unacceptable”. I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist more than once. I hate to admit it but…that label, at one time, was justified. The embarrassing thing is… I used to be proud of it. I saw it as a badge of being good. Then I realized… being a perfectionist is not an healthy thing. In fact, it’s a debilitating and damaging thing. ((sigh))
Two things awakened me to the fact that being a perfectionist was a negative not a positive.
Years ago, I heard a woman on television proclaim that she was a “recovering perfectionist”. Well that caught my attention. I didn’t think trying to do things “perfectly” was anything you needed to “recover” from. But when I listened further, I understood.
One of the things she talked about was how being a perfectionist could cause us to be inconsiderate of others. My next awakening moment…
My friends Sally and Anita and I were hanging a paper border around a bulletin board in the foyer at church. (This was a long time ago, folks. The orange bulletin board is long gone.) Sally and Anita were balancing on chairs on both sides of the large vinyl bulletin board while I stood at a distance from the wall eyeballing the straightness of the border.
“A little more to the right. That’s too far. Back a hair. Now go up. No – other side. Now take your side down. Shift it all a little to the left half a hair. That’s too much. No – go back.”
I realized this was getting ridiculous when the blood was draining from my exasperated friend’s uplifted hands – not to mention the looks on their faces. In that moment, the recovering perfectionist’s words came back to me. “Perfectionism can cause us to be inconsiderate of others.”
Ouch! That was ME! Having my “would-do-anything-for-ya” friends perch up on those chairs and shift a ribbed piece of wavy paper back and forth and up and down till they thought they were gonna have to order out for lunch had reached the definition of being “inconsiderate of others”. I was being inconsiderate of two friends who were doing their best to please me but I was – shall we say – unpleaseable. (Don’t try that word in Scrabble)
I looked at my friends and said, “That’s good. Thank you.” Whether I thought is was perfect or not no longer mattered. I realized my friends were being more thoughtful of me than I was of them. I was ashamed.
I just wanted to do a good job. I didn’t mean to be inconsiderate of them. But I was. My quest for perfection had overtaken my consideration of others.
So… what’s a perfectionist to do???
I had to rethink the way I approached getting a job done. I had to ask myself, “What’s more important – your friends or that piece of paper being 1/2 a millimeter higher on the right?”
When I look at it that way, the answer is obvious. Friends are more important. But when I’m trying to do something correctly (ahem – perfectly) it’s like this monster takes over and I lose all sensibility! Everything within me wants to scream, “JUST MAKE IT PERFECT!”.
Y’all, that monster was hard to tame. For awhile it was as elusive as Sasquatch in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest. (Sasquatch is out there somewhere, by the way. We all know it. T.V. says so.) ? Anyway, I’m happy to say now…
Hello. My name is Gwen. I’m a recovering perfectionist.
Letting some things go in light of consideration of others is just one of the things that has helped me let go of the stress of trying to be perfect. (Trying to be perfect is stressful, y’all!) There are many more things that have helped me kick perfection to the curb though.
I’m going to continue this discussion on Tuesday’s “What Did God Say?” Facebook LIVE Video. To help me drill down on the topic of perfectionism…
I’ve invited sweet-spirited Danielle Blumer to join me in the discussion, “Paralyzed by Perfect”. Dani is an accomplished photographer and owner of Hope Photography. Her work has been featured in Oklahoma Bride’s Magazine, Oklahoma Bride’s blog and Wedding Chicks’ blog. Check out her stunningly impressive portfolio at hopesimage.com.
I asked Dani to join me because Dani and I have this common struggle to not allow the pursuit of perfection to paralyze us. I invite you to join our conversation and let’s put the fallacy of “perfect” behind us.
Listen, the road to non-perfectionism (Scrabble non-word alert) was a difficult one but a doable one. If I can do it… you can too.
Hop online with us September 13th, @ 8 p.m. (CST) at Facebook.com/gwen.rutz to hear more. If you have questions leave them in the comments section below or send me a private Facebook message and we’ll do our best to answer them.
I’m working on a THANK YOU gift for you just for LIKING, COMMENTING, and SHARING our LIVE videos! I’m so appreciative of your support and I want to show it! Our first video garnered over 2100 views! That may not be may not be much in the big scheme of the World Wide Web, but I think that’s just pretty good for a no-name girl hidden away in the sticks of Oklahoma! Y’all are awesome! Thanks! So be looking for that gift of appreciation!
We’ll se ya next Tuesday!
Go be perfect! (just kidding) ?
Feature photo by LordEfan