The Perfectionist In Me

I’m not the kind of perfectionist whose house is always clean, whose clothes are perfectly pressed, or whose credit cards are organized alphabetically in her wallet. I’m a different breed of perfectionist.

I’ve always hated making mistakes. I’ve never been the kind of girl who could blow off a silly mishap and get on with life – be it spilling my drink at the dinner table, coloring outside the lines in a coloring book, getting a less-than-perfect grade on homework, burning dinner, messing up a sewing project, or something deeper liking making a mistake in a relationship. I just don’t like it. Somehow, I end up feeling like lesser of a person when I mess up. I allow it to define my worth as a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a friend. I don’t like it, but it’s what I do.

In my recent ventures in counseling, I’ve discovered a lot more about this area of my personality. I’ve found, with the help of my counselor, that I live a lot of my life trying to make things look good for other people. I often feel the need to fully explain myself, give very specific details, and make sure that the hearer truly understands anything I might be talking about. I give disclaimers, excuses, and explanations galore. And you know, it’s downright exhausting.
Now that I’ve been made fully aware of the extent of my perfectionism, I want nothing more than to get to the root of it and make some serious changes. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling like my world has fallen apart when I burn soup. I can easily reason with myself that my world hasn’t truly fallen apart, but then the rest of my night is affected by that soup burning – I feel dejected, tense, and irritated. Not a good combination, my friends.
This perfectionism likes to rear its ugly head in other parts of my life, too. Not only do I feel bad about burning the soup, but I have this urge to explain to everyone present why the soup burned, what I was doing when it happened, and how I can do better next time, even when no one asks. It’s like I want to beat them to the punch –  “Maybe they’re wondering how on earth this could have happened. I’ll explain it as quickly as possible so that they don’t have time to think badly of me.” What’s the deal with that??
I’d love to be like this: “Oops, burnt the soup! Bummer! I wonder what else I can throw together for dinner!” And then, simply be done with it. I think I can get there. I hope I can get there!
I have made a commitment, though. I figure I should take it one step at a time, so for now, my goal is to stop explaining myself to people. I don’t owe people every single little detail. And I doubt they want to hear every single little detail! Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. I know my heart. God knows my heart. That’s enough.
So, here’s to taking a step toward a new, less-than-perfect-and-proud-of-it me. 🙂 If anything, I’m glad to be learning this now. I’m young, my child hasn’t yet been subjected (or at least, he isn’t aware that he’s been subjected!) to my perfectionism. My husband has grace for me. It’s a good time to take action.
Of course, now I’m reading this post over again and thinking, “Did I give too much detail? Am I making excuses??” 🙂 I’ll let it go.
I’ve got a baby with a cold, and it looks like he needs a little schnoz-wiping. Any suggestions for helping a baby with a cold get a good amount of sleep? Last night was a nightmare. More on that later, though!
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Perfectionist In Me

  1. Katie

    I did NOT KNOW how much we were alike. Does my capitalization emphasize my shock enough? 😉 I am so with you on the need to explain and the needing to be understood. If you ever have time, you should get the book Strengthsfinder 20.0 You can’t get it used because it has a unique code in it to take an online test. At the rest of sounding like an infomercial ;-)… it was GREAT. The test wasn’t that long. But it identifies your top 5 strengths and gives you unique explanation based on the dynamic of how your top 5 rank together in their order and with your other answers etc.

    For instance, you and Ryan could have several of the same strengths but described differently still.

    Jake and I did this and honestly, it gave me HUGE insight into myself and understanding the things I do/don’t do.

    One of the weak sides of my “strengths” was an intense need to be understood. It actually said something like “You don’t have to agree, sympathize, or have a long discussion with this person you just need to make an attempt to listen and understand their point of view” Yikes! 🙂

    I should blog about it soon! I have it up in my store (shameless plug.. but if you would buy anyway.. you know ;-D) http://astore.amazon.com/musofamamofma-20

    We had a lot of good laughs and couldn’t believe the descriptions about each other and how right on they were, even though we were individually shocked at first at what some of our strengths were.. not ones we would’ve thought to pick!

    They go beyond describing you though and give you ideas on how to build on to the areas you are already strong in. Really good stuff!

  2. Lindsey Elizabeth Burke

    On the cold part…there is this AMAZING stuff called Gaia’s Children Warming Vaporous Rub. It’s all natural. Just herbs and essential oils…life saver! It’s by Gaia Herbs. I found it at a chiropractors office, but I know you can buy it online. It is worth the money too. hope that helps the little man. (It’s similar to Vick’s Vapor Rub, but without the medicine burning smell to it!) LIFE SAVER. Wait, did I say that already? 🙂

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