The Perfect Trap

I am a bit of a perfectionist.

If you could see my apartment right now, you wouldn’t believe me.  Culturally, we tend to think of perfectionists as super-organized, type-A folks who arrive everywhere ten minutes early, keep their homes pristine, and color-code their socks.  If you’ve read anything on this blog, you will know that I don’t fit that description.  Despite this, I am a perfectionist.

For me, being a perfectionist means that I am endlessly hard on myself.  I always come up a bit short when measured against my own standards.  Sometimes this is a good thing.  It is what drives me to improve myself.  Sometimes, it’s overwhelming.  I tend to set goals too high.  I tend not to want to start a project unless I know I can finish it in a satisfactory way.  I tend to decide that something I can’t do “right” just isn’t worth doing.

When I’m already in a slump, this thought process is not helpful.  I quickly begin to feel so far behind that catching up seems hopeless.  I feel pressured to get everything together at once and be all caught up when I start back into my routine.  Of course, that’s not how life works.

In real life, we tend to take baby-steps.  In real life, I am never completely caught up.  In real life, sometimes I have to let things go.

This week has been about re-engaging.  I’ve made it to all of my classes, and while I didn’t get all the backlogged reading done, I did review all the lecture notes.  And now that I’ve gone back, it will be easier to do again next week.

For me, re-engaging means re-prioritizing.  Some things get abandoned.  I’m not going to go back and do two or three weeks of retrospective reading unless I don’t understand something in the lecture slides.  Other things have to be sidelined.  My apartment needs to be cleaned, but instead of trying to do it all at once, I’ve been spending five minutes out of every thirty washing dishes, wiping down counters, and de-cluttering.  The rest of the mess will wait.  Saturday, all I’ll have left is dusting, vacuuming, and mopping the tile.

My life does not look perfect right now.  I’m not getting all the blogging done that I want to do.  I’m not getting as much exercise as I told myself I would.  I’m not reading as much scripture as I had hoped to.

But I’ve made it to class on time.  I’ve turned in homework assignments.  I’ve gone to work and met with project groups and eaten moderately well.  (I cheated tonight.  I had a 50% off pizza coupon that was about to expire!)

In short, things are getting better, and I’m working hard to catch up a little at a time.  I’m trying to have grace for myself and focus on the positive things instead of how messy my living room is.  I’m taking it one day at a time.

Perfect is overrated.


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