Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Rewind #1: Be Perfect At Your Own Peril

For a few days this month, until I finish some research for my next new blog post, I'm rewinding the clock to some of my favorite guest posts I wrote in 2013. Enjoy!  This article first appeared on My Book Addiction & More in June 2013.

Be Perfect at Your Own Peril

“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” 

At any given day in the Parker household, you might see Pop Tart crumbs on the table. Yes, I’m that kind of mom. I am not an organic movement warrior. I’m more of a Kroger sale surfer.

My house—let’s not even go there. Seriously, call first, because the cleanliness level hovers somewhere between filthy and cluttered unless I’m expecting guests. Maybe I should have more guests…

Perfectionist? Nope, not me. I’ve struck out so many times in motherhood, like just a couple months ago when I threw away my youngest daughter’s test instead of signing it and placing it neatly in her backpack to return to class. I’m glad her teacher couldn’t see me blushing when she called to ask about it.

And there was the time I left the basement door open and the same daughter fell down the steps at about eight months old. Or the time…I really could go on and on.

But, I won’t, because I’m not a perfectionist. I am learning to let go of the impossible. It is, after all, impossible to be perfect. So why do we kill ourselves to be flawless?

Letting go of perfectionism doesn’t mean we become slackers or lose all ambition. Quite the opposite. It means we do our best and let go of the impossible. When we make mistakes, we pick up the pieces and carry on. We don’t set the bar so high that we can’t jump over it. We make realistic goals and accomplish them to the best of our ability.

Trust me; I still battle the perfectionism monster from time to time, especially with my writing. I have to make myself stop editing before I end up with a desperate-looking story with too much makeup and no date. I have to accept that my best is good enough so I can move on to something new. It’s the key to growth and improvement. Perfectionism does nothing but hold you rooted in place when all you really want to do is spread your wings and fly.

Q& A: Do you battle perfectionism? What areas of your life could you let go of some expectations?

1 comment:

  1. Elaine Flory: I have perfectionitis. Not in my mundane life of trying to keep the place picked up--with two cats a husband and my absent-minded, ADHD self interfering with how the place "should" look, I've given up on perfection in my surroundings. When I sit down and write, though, I am prey to paralyzing bouts of perfectionism. It takes me forever to start a new project because I keep starting over (and over). Only magic can make me put away my hopes for brilliance and just write the damn story. It's the magic of the story itself. At some place or other (so far!), I become engaged with my story and its characters and they suck me in, so that what I am doing is dictating a world given to me from that world itself. And then I write. Once the first draft is done though, then I'm subject to the perfectionism of editing, which is a deep rabbit hole, indeed. All that can save me is my fictional world once again. If I can get to that place of trance-like reading where the work is new to me again, I can get it done. Sometimes, it takes me a LONG time to get there, though. Perfectionism is a curse, mostly, though it does keep me from embarrassing myself by having my sloppy prose seen by other eyes. Fear of embarrassment vs. writing from the blood. I'll take the latter any day.


***NOTICE*** Thanks to a spam bot infestation, every comment must now be subjected to a full-body search. If you pass, you can skip the anal probing...maybe.