Tag Archives: Perfectionism

When Perfectionism Gets In the Way

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Click here to see other beautiful work by Dilka Bear @behance.com

I’m not going to lie.

I’ve been having a tough time.

I’ve already deleted those two sentences twice.

While I don’t have OCD, I do have some obsessive traits which sometimes strangle me.

Has anyone noticed I haven’t been posting very much?

No? Good, that’s awesome.

Except it sucks.

Because I have actually been writing prolifically.

For days.

Last night, I was up until 2 AM working and reworking a piece about summer camp.

But I just can’t seem to bring myself to push PUBLISH.

When I first started this blog, I wrote with reckless abandon.

I was fearless.

But now I feel paralyzed.

So many of my cyber buddies manage to blog and publish books. While I am, of course, thrilled for them, I feel less than. I can’t understand what’s wrong with me. I know writing a book isn’t a race, but seriously? This thing is taking forever.

Clearly, I’m suffering from Comparison’s Disease, a 100% made-up syndrome coined by my husband to describe one of our friends — we’ll call him Tom — who is forever comparing one thing to something else.

Say we’re sitting at an outdoor cafe when a limousine blows by. Tom’ll be all: “Do you guys remember when we got caught behind that hearse?”

“Yeah,” I might say. “What’s your point?”

“Well, they’re both long and black.”

And then we’d laugh.

Because Tom’s Comparison’s Disease is funny.

Mine is different.

I’ve subscribed to a lot of blogs. Probably too many. Instead of inspiring me, I find myself losing steam.

Angry voices in my head shout at me.

The voices are pissed off and alternate between reminding me that I need to write better and faster and telling me that I suck. They tell me my words aren’t good enough, that I’ll never finish my book, that I should close up shop and get a job selling erotic toys or smoothies. Or something.

This post isn’t meant to be profound.

I just needed to confess that I’m feeling like a fraud.

Frankly, I just needed write something in 20 minutes.

To prove that I could.

I’ve been here before.

I’m sure I’ll dig my way out of this hole.

I just need to stop trying so hard for perfect.

Because perfect is the enemy.

I know this.

I just need to finish.

And look, 43 minutes later, I did.

Are you a perfectionist? What tricks do you have to keep moving forward when your brain is telling you everything you do is a terrible mistake?

tweet me @rasjacobson

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Teenage Resistance To The Teachable Moment

Dr Brown's Cream Soda

Dr Brown’s Cream Soda (Photo credit: stevegarfield)

TechSupport was relaxing, drawing in his notebook to complete an assignment for his art class.

“Can I show you something?” my husband interjected. He used to be a pretty good artist back in the day. “I want to show you how to look at that can of soda and really see it.”

“I kind of just want to draw,” Tech said.

My husband pulled a chair over to the kitchen table where our son was sitting. “I just want to show you something,” he said. “Will you just look?”

Tech kept his eyes on his notebook. “I will.” His hands gripped his pencil tightly. “In a little while.”

I addressed my husband. “Not every moment has to be a teachable moment…”

My husband glared at me. “Don’t do that.” He held up one hand. “You’re always undermining me. I just want to show him something.”

Insulted, my husband pushed back from the table, scraped the chair’s legs against the hardwood floors, and he stormed off into another room.

Tech’s hand continued to move. He wasn’t really looking at his can of soda. He was just coloring.

“You know,” I said. “Instead of making a big stink, you could’ve just listened to what he wanted to say.”

Tech bit his lip and continued drawing.

After a while, Hubby reappeared. “Now can I show you something?”

I could feel how much my husband wanted to show our son what he knew. How he wanted our child to see the world differently. How he wanted him to see shadows and light. How he wanted him to see a different perspective.

Tech looked at me, then at his father. I could see he was biting the inside of his cheek.

I imagine he felt outnumbered.

There are always two of us, and only one of him. He tries so hard to please.

My husband started again. He showed our son how the eye can lie. How colors can be different, not uniform. How a brown can of soda isn’t really brown when you are drawing it. If you look, it is gray and maroon. Even orange in places.

“That’s all I wanted to show you,” my husband said with some degree of satisfaction.

After all, he got what he wanted.

“Thanks,” Tech said with a blend of gratitude and sarcasm in his voice.

My husband’s cell phone rang and he answered it.

And Tech continued to draw with his brown pencil.

Not gray, no maroon, no orange. He only used brown: a Good Son’s quiet act of defiance.

Tech’s completed drawing

What my husband didn’t know was that Tech and I had plans. We’d said that while he drew his picture of Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda, that I would write about the same topic.

I guess it didn’t go quite as planned.

Or maybe we all got it done in our own way.

Michel Foucault once wrote: “Where there is power there is also resistance.” Anyone experiencing any resistance lately?

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

Photo by Dionne Hartnett @ flickr.com

Whenever I take on a project, where I am in a leadership role, where there are deadlines, where visible, public failure is possible – I get positively crazed. The desire for perfection makes me hustle to work, work, work – and in striving for perfection, the craziness kicks in.

This weekend I was grading essays. The. Entire. Weekend. You could not get me to stop. My husband came in at 2 pm and begged me to stop. My son came in at 3 pm and begged me to stop. They tried to stop me. They offered food. “I’ll eat when I am finished,” I said.  I couldn’t be stopped. I was . . . driven.

Thankfully, I don’t have this problem with shopping (or sex) because it is powerful and unstoppable, and it would likely land me in the poorhouse or, in the case of the latter, in a starring role in an episode of Californication.

Hours later, after I’d completed all the grading, I felt miserable that I’d neglected my family all day. That isn’t right. I will try to be more mindful about this in the future. For once, I’d like to be in the club, rather than always being the “leader of the band.”