Hands up in you’re a perfectionist.
I see ya. Yup, you, too. And over there.
You know, there are those who might be surprised to see my hand waving in the air like I just don’t care. I mean, I do care. A lot.
I’m a perfectionist. Of course I care. A lot.
See, I’m a perfectionist in such a way that, if I can’t do something absolutely amazingly and wonderfully, and PERFECTLY, I just don’t want to do it at all. Maybe that’s why I’m not the world’s best housekeeper…hm.
One might think that perfectionism would be a boon for a writer. That it would fuel me to do my very best work and that it would drive me to keep going until it’s — well — perfect.
Really, though, my perfectionism trips me up more than it urges me on.
In my writing life, that looks like working a scene over and over until it’s exactly how I want it. Even then, it’s not as good as it could be. Or perfectionism looks like paralysis, an inability to start a chapter for fear of doing it wrong.
That’s not great, in case you wondered.
My perfectionism overflows to areas of my regular life, too.
There have been times when I haven’t invited friends over because I didn’t think I’d ever get my house perfectly clean. I used to beat myself up over vocal performances when I didn’t hit every single note perfectly. I’ve avoided trying new things because it took the risk of showing that I’m not perfectly good at everything.
I don’t wear sleeveless shirts and I rarely wear a swimsuit in public because I’m afraid of people seeing how really imperfect my body is. I don’t want them to be disappointed by my chubby legs and misshapen belly (which, to be fair, has never been the same after being stretched out by a couple of babies who decided that being twins was cool).
It’s often not enough for me to try to be perfect. I usually want other people to think I’m perfect, too.
The problem? I’m totally not perfect.
The problem? I am a mere mortal with limitations.
The problem? I like chocolate more than I like doing sit ups.
Sometimes, in some things, I need to be content with Good Enough.
Hear me, please, not in a dismissive, slack off way. But in a “I did my best and can give no more of myself” kind of way.
When a friend comes over and sees that I haven’t gotten that cobweb in the corner, it’s okay. I vacuumed and scooped the poop out of the litter box. Good enough.
When I sing at church and my voice cracks, it’s okay. I still put my heart into serving others and worshipping God. Good enough.
When I serve dinner on paper plates every night for a full week, but those dinners had all the important elements (including a veggie). Good enough.
When I falter under the temptation of the chocolate chips in the cupboard, but I also had an extra handful of spinach at lunch (without ranch). Good enough.
When I don’t know what to say to comfort a friend, but am wise enough to know that a hug speaks plenty. Good enough.
When I’m doing what I can with what I’ve got and trying my very best to hear what God has to say (even though sometimes His voice is so soft I have to strain to listen). Good. Enough.
It’s grace that I give myself. To do what I’m able to and let go of what is beyond me. To put my time and energy into the tasks that God has enabled me to do and to allow myself to sit back and imagine Him looking at my efforts.
And I imagine Him smiling in the way that fathers do and taking my small gifts and saying, “Good enough.”
Great reminders, Susie. I let perfectionism paralyze me too, at the keyboard. Every time I even think about Les Mis, I’m tempted to throw up my hands and say “why bother writing anything else?” haha I am getting better about wrangling those types of thoughts. “Good enough,” in the way you describe it, certainly is Good Enough.
Ugh! Isn’t it so hard not to compare ourselves to all the other books? But not even Victor Hugo could write a book quite like Jocelyn Green. 😉
Hi Susie. Just wanted to ask you a question? Didn’t see an email. What type of church do you go to? Like I go to a Church of Christ.
Hi, Nannette. I attend Ada Bible Church. It’s a non-denominational, Bible centered congregation. 🙂