You know when you keep having a thought in your head, or a word that continues to come to you? Lately that word has been perfect, or perfection, or perfectionism. It has come up in my own life, and at work. Usually folks will say with pride: “I am a perfectionist.” Or they might say, “I am a perfectionist, but I do not look at that as a weakness, it is a strength of mine.” Whatever it means to each of us, the word has been on my brain. Thus, I am not sure why it took me so long to read Anna Quindlen’s book: “Being Perfect.” It is not a new book, it has been around about 9 years. Once you pick it up you can read it in about 15 minutes. All 48 pages are full of black and white photos. To me this is the best quote of the entire book:
“Give up the nonsensical and punishing quest for perfection that dogs too many of us through too much of our lives. It is a quest that causes us to doubt and denigrate ourselves, our true selves, our quirks and foibles and great heroic leaps into the unknown. Much of what we were at five or six is what we wind up wishing we could be at fifty or sixty.” page 44-45
There are times when I think trying to be perfect holds us back from relishing the life we are living that very moment. There are countless times when I have to make something look just right, or finish up that task, or make sure my house is clean before I can do x, y, or z. I have blogged before about how much my surroundings need to be organized in order for me to be creative, but what if that is only the result of wanting things a certain way and, dare I say, that certain way is to have everything in its place? Does that make me a perfectionist?
I am sure there are loads of studies that have already been done about perfectionism. I am not going to look them up. I am not going to do any research. I am also not going to feel bad about who I am or where I like to have order in my life. At the moment it works for me as long as I am aware of what I am doing and I do not let my ways get in the way of potentially missing out on an adventure, or a “leap into the unknown.” Yes, I will have to be quite aware of when I think I am not going to do “that thing” because it might be messy, or because it is something new and uncomfortable.
I am going to embrace the five-year old me. Bring it on!