Hello my name is Kim and I am a perfectionist. Not a new realization, I’ve known this most of my life. In fact, it was one of those things I said proudly as I strive for perfection and required those around me to do likewise. An exercise that we did in a group I facilitated last year required us to list all our characteristics and all our flaws and to circle the ones that match. It was interesting to see if the labels we accept were misunderstood characteristics. One of my characteristics is perfectionism, but I never classified it as a flaw. I thought perfectionism as a good thing; a person always striving for the best. I realize now that it is can be a roadblock and that I am stuck behind it.
I spent midnight of New Year Eve making resolutions with my family and friends. I viewed this as setting goals and I came prepared with a premade list for the event. I wanted this new year to be different, for me to actually do better.
For the last twenty years my husband and I have celebrated New Years with the kids. We have a wonderful dinner, special snack foods and hundreds of balloons. At midnight after we have popped all the balloons, we gather around the kitchen table with our sparkling cider in plastic wine cups and our list of at least three resolutions. We first list the highlights of the year and then move on to the last year’s resolutions and remind each other what we promised. I read my 2015 resolutions;
- Get a better job
- Improve my gardening skills.
- Write and publish more.
It figures, I failed at every one of mine. I didn’t get a good job, but still at the dead-end part-time job, I did not accomplish my gardening goals nor did I write more. In fact, I wrote less. I was disappointed in myself, but instead of ditching the tradition, I spent the time as I waited for my turn, to come up with better resolutions, ones I could keep.
When the new day of the new year dawned, I found myself, like I have been doing for the past three months, staring at a blank computer screen. The cursor mocking me with it’s flashing, as if saying think; think; think. After a few moments, I do what I always do, I switch to my Facebook page and catch up with everyone’s highlights. I come across a post from Becoming A Minimalist’s blog, 11 Resolutions For A Better You – Proven By Science, it had all the common ones, like exercise, less tv, buy less experience more, etc. An Oprah magazine stares up from a pile on my desk, broadcasting Steps To A Better You. They all say to be better, do more, push yourself to be the best you can be, all with a picture of this unrealistic beautifully thin woman, who plans meals, exercises a couple of hours a day, reads, spends time in nature, and gets a good night rest, plus has a rewarding career, perfectly behaved children, an organized house and a sense of style.
No wonder I feel immobilized, I cannot measure up. I continue my scrolling of Facebook, slumped shoulder and chin in my hand and feeling depressed until I find this post from my cousin.
Ditch the resolutions and reflect!
I cannot self-love if I am beating myself up for not being good enough. I cannot grow if I make goals that I can do perfectly. I logged off Facebook and gazed at the blank screen and the mocking cursor; the blinking saying this time, “must be perfect”; “must be perfect”… I fought that battle when I posted my first post and I fought it with every entry thereafter. I have found many flaws in my previous entries, my grammar is horrible and I have been told that a few of my entries make no sense. Comments like this should spur me to make corrections in my craft, but instead it screams at me “not good enough”.
I am not the problem; the problem is my disease of perfectionism. Just as alcoholism is hereditary so is perfectionism. I come from a long line of both. I wonder if they are related? I wonder if one could fight perfectionism as one would fight alcoholism? Should I start a support group for perfectionist like Alcoholic Anonymous? To resolute to write about it, twelve steps in the next twelve months?
Step one is admitting I have problem. Hello my name is Kim and I am a perfectionist.