Perfectionism, Worries, and Other Wasters

Untitled (Perfectionism) by Sarah Hobbs

I can never do anything for five minutes, which drives me absolutely fricking crazy.  Pluck weeds in the garden?  Yep, there goes three hours.  Vacuum my office?  Er, try every room.  It’s a disease, but there’s a reason I’m like this: I never, ever catch up.

No matter how many to-do lists I accomplish, or how many daily successes I have, there’s no real kick back. Heard the statement, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.” I’m revising it to, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you should’ve done yesterday.” Cause there’s always a delay, be it a day, week, month, in what I feel should’ve been accomplished.

Slow down, I hear myself say. You’re so young. You’ve got all the time in the world. Or at least, all the relative time.

What’s mind boggling about this – and I apologize for continuing this bitch rant – is that I’m crazy busy and I don’t even have kids (unless Josie is included, cause that pooch demands a lot of attention!) Now I understand the term “quarter-life crisis” although to be honest, I think it’s a little cheap. I mean how weak, spoiled, whatever adjective you prefer, are we that twenty-somethings have quarter life crises? Thinking about this from my grandmother’s Depression Era pov shames me.

I think this present life chaos all boils down to options. We have a gazillion choices a day, a gazillion things to filter. If I realistically breezed through my to-do list, which on most days includes work, write, house clean, yard maintenance, walk josie, internet research, staying abreast of industry news, cooking dinner for hubby, etc. – those sails would definitely be deflated. And I don’t even have kids . . .

Which brings me back to a few things I always aspire to:

Don’t worry about what you can’t change and don’t worry about what you can change. Yes, Mr. Buddha says, “Don’t worry about anything. Do.”

Things fall apart, it’s their nature. Mend those things you can, leave the rest. It’s okay if some things are broken. Keep only what you can care for.

“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” Comedian Steven Wright.


In one of my former lives, I used to be a perfectionist. I say former because perfectionism is something I’ve repeatedly yanked out by the root. I guess it’s a control aspect of my personality, psychologically, but I never really felt that way. For me, perfectionism was about never wanting to disappoint, to pull through and do those things that needed to be done when somebody else wouldn’t or couldn’t. It was a little like taking speed every day (which fyi, I never have) because in my head all things had to be done now and done right. I cleaned with fury, revised and rewrote until I would wake up disoriented from arranging sentences in my sleep.

I have since embarked on a tentative 90% fail-proof cure. It’s one part aging, one part taking daily risks to exercise outside my comfort zone, and one part applying logic to an emotional situation. Perfectionism hinges upon emotions: “I’m not enough. I don’t do enough. If only I…” The Critic. The Puritan. And as writer Deanna Kizis has called it, Stan.

If you read one more thing today, read Talking Myself Up by Deanna Kizis.  It’s quite possibly the best article I’ve ever read on destructive inner dialogue.  Think of it this way: Stan might inspire you to name your own doubter and thereby vanquish him.

And if all else fails, see the rosy side of doubt  á la Rene Descartes:
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”

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