I am a perfectionist. This is not something I came to realize on a whim. In fact, I once did a professional profile test, something required for school, where my working style was called “perfectionist.” I’ll be honest, that was not good news to me, but it was also not surprising.
Apparently this is not an uncommon trait. Lots of firstborns have it, and I am the firstborn of two firstborn parents. Lots of women struggle with it, too. There are several online communities devoted to conquering this problem.
Problem? Why would that be a problem? Because being a perfectionist is far from being perfect. I struggle with starting anything, because if it isn’t perfect, I am a failure in my eyes. I love the song “Free to Be Me” by Francessca Battistelli because in the chorus she sings “perfection is my enemy.” It’s true.
Right now I’m sitting in a home office that has piles everywhere. I don’t know what to do with them exactly, and I want to have it all perfect and neat, with typed labels on files and color-coded and easy access to everything. Oh, and I want the photographs to be cataloged and scanned into the computer, but the computer is acting up so I probably can’t do that, and I don’t know where the labels are, plus the printer needs ink and I’d have to clean it off, and and and…
Did you ever sing the children’s song “There’s a Hole In My Bucket“? I remember it from grade school because it always made us crack up with it’s silliness, but in a lot of ways that is what perfectionists like me struggle with. Getting started somewhere is the toughest thing to do.
A few weeks ago my friend Jim posted a quote on his blog: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” It’s from St. Francis of Assisi, and I copied it and printed it out. I’m trying to remind myself daily to look at it and begin with what I have to get done, then what I can get done, and then move on to the stuff I just want to do for fun.
Somehow the overwhelming tasks don’t seem so overwhelming when I get started. It’s only when I look at them from the outside that they are scary. Kind of like talking to people. Hmm, I think I’m sensing a pattern in my life here.