No Limits to Perfectionism

I wish I had understood very early in my life that I am a perfectionist. So many incidents and frustrations might have been avoided, if I had known that fact and how to use it. Some people think that it’s a thing from which we should seek to recover, like alcoholism or Catholicism. Not me. I embrace my perfectionism.

Simply knowing that’s what it is that’s driving some reactions and impulses does, in fact, help me to control it to some extent. I understand that not everyone is a perfectionist, that little details don’t matter as much to everyone. And, miraculously, when it is someone else’s work or world or home or clothes, I can let it go. A bit. I can understand that this someone else knows but does not care, and because I know it is my perfectionism at work, I am able not to care so much.

Still, I am stuck with it when it’s my work or world or home or clothes. I had a friend once who said that my apartment always seemed as though I had just vacuumed. I didn’t say it, but it seemed that way because I had. But, my place is always dusty. I hate dusting, and so I rarely do it, because I can’t just dust one room or one thing. Perfectionism is very complex.

This topic has come up because I have written a long poem in seven syllable lines. My reader commented on there being some lines that weren’t, but that they didn’t disrupt the rhythm. I couldn’t leave well enough alone. After all, this is my work. I re-read every line, tapping out the syllables (tapping out the syllables has seven, by the way). Not only does that much tapping make the wrist start to ache, but I found about thirty lines of 2290 that needed an additional tap. I fixed them. I blame their existence on my inability with numbers.

At dinner on Wednesday, I mentioned these thirty lapses to my companion, who gave me a look, and I explained that it isn’t easy being a perfectionist. I said I hoped I would be able to keep myself from doing another count before the poem goes to press. But I won’t. I know me. And I want it to be perfect.

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4 Comments

Filed under On Thinking, On Writing

4 responses to “No Limits to Perfectionism

  1. Linda

    I always look forward to your musings Mary. This one made me laugh. What I would like to know, is how on earth did that reader find those lines? Did s/he tap them out? You two would understand each other, I think.

  2. Doris Ayyoub

    I had a perfectionist friend who was depressed from feelings of emptiness after retirement . So she sought counseling. The advice she was given just made things worse. He advised her to go home, unwind, and do some manual labor such as clean the oven. She never went back to him. Her freaking oven was already spotless!

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