Are you a perfectionist? I have been one for years…. and no, that’s not a brag. It has been one of my greatest struggles throughout my life. I can remember crying at the kitchen table in the third grade because I couldn’t get my cursive writing to be perfect. Does cursive writing actually matter? No. Did my parents care about my cursive writing? No. Did I care about cursive writing as a third grade teacher? No. My struggle with things being perfect did not end in elementary school. I don’t know why I’m wired this way, but I always have been.
Lately I have been wanting to get back into reading, but novels haven’t been able to keep my interest this year-probably because I never get the momentum going to actually keep track of the plot. So a few weeks ago, I grabbed “13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do” by Amy Morin when I was at Target. She is a psychotherapist that provides an interesting perspective from what she has learned from women pouring their hearts out to her. It’s a great read and really resonated with me on Chapter 2- They Don’t Insist on Perfection.
Unfortunately, I’ve never really reflected about perfection until reading this book and certainly never viewed it as a trait that I should work on. She hit the nail on the head when describing the anxiety, risk of burnout and fear of failure that perfectionists often experience… check, check, check!
If a perfectionist mindset could be fixed overnight, I would have done it years ago. My first step is being mindful of it and how damaging it is to my health. I’m sure I will re-read that chapter (and several others) a few times. There’s a fine line between having high expectations of yourself and unrealistic ones.
Part of my perfectionist ways went straight out the window the day I had Jacob. I guess survival mode will do that to you. But it still wiggles it’s ugly head into my days. One comical example is our recent Christmas tree decorating experience.
Joey and I love a real Christmas tree, but we’ve been burned a few times by having bugs come crawling out of it. If you want to see a new mom freak out, have aphids hatch all over her living room floor. Look it up- it’s disgusting. They are harmless, but essentially look like ticks everywhere. Anyways, we have fake trees inside the house now. Frasier fir candles will have to do.
Our new tree was delivered last Thursday and we decided we’d get it set up before leaving for the mountains. Since we are new to this fake tree thing, we didn’t realize just how much fluffing of branches is involved for a 9 foot tree. Ugh… 1 point for real trees.
We turned on some Christmas music and I reluctantly started while Joey played with Jacob upstairs. About 15 minutes later, it was time to put him to bed. I had barely gotten anything done… because I was sprucing the branches to perfection. My arms hurt. While rocking Jacob, I actually told myself I was done with that nonsense for the night. But when I came back out in the living room, Joey had done the entire tree. We laughed about the differences in our personality. He’s big picture and I’m all about the details. In most ways, we balance each other pretty well. It was a lot less overwhelming sprucing up the tree after he did that.
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t still been fixing branches every time I walk past it. Why am I so good at zeroing in on flaws?! Today I am vowing to not spruce another branch. The tree looks beautiful. This silly Christmas tree story is my grand first step in letting my perfectionist ways go.