“Eh, that’s good enough.” (or… areas of improvement pt. 3)

9 Aug

During certain stages of my life, you would never guess that I’m a perfectionist.  When we think of perfectionists, we tend to think about über-productive busy bees, dashing from one activity to the next, never wasting a second.  We think of people who never see anything less than an A in school, and grow up to be powerful, hair-spitting workaholics.  We forget about the other kind of perfectionist; the slacker perfectionist.

The great paradigm of perfectionism, is that in its truest form, it can be paralyzing.  If a person’s internal quality control approves 0% of the production, nothing gets accomplished, leaving the person as far as possible from perfection.  When nothing is good enough, frustration is the inevitable result.  In my case, frustration became associated with trying to do things and lead me to feeling extremely anxious whenever I had things to do.  In other words, my perfection left me in a near constant state of anxiety.  

Anxiety is one of the worst feelings.  It feels like someone is rattling around in your brain, and carving holes in your viscera.  And so, I got in the habit of avoiding many of the things that made me feel anxious.  Thus began my transition in the world of slackerdom.  No one would think to call me a perfectionist, as I spent the greater part of several years collecting cobwebs in front of the computer screen, surfing the web, but that’s what I was.

Cleaning meant spring cleaning, regardless of the season.  I constantly found myself too short on time and energy to dedicate an entire day or two to cleaning.  Doing homework meant trying to write an essay that precisely expressed my thoughts, creating something that would blow my professors away, getting the brackets on an equation just so; symmetric and aesthetically pleasing.  Working out meant going all out with a work-out that would leave me sore and depleted.  Etc., etc., etc.  Needless to say, dishes piled up, laundry went unfolded, homework went undone, and work-outs were missed.

For several years I knew that my perfectionism only led to procrastination, but it took me awhile to start combatting it.  My combat weapon of choice was to start throwing up my shoulders and proclaiming things good enough.  Cleaning can mean just folding a few articles of clothing at a time, putting them away another time, and tidying for little stretches of time throughout the week.  Writing an essay can mean simply communicating to my professor that I’m familiar with the material and doing some lightweight proofreading.  Working out can mean just going on a half hour walk.

Good enough gets things done, demanding perfection doesn’t.  Life is about triaging and slowly moving ahead, as best you can.  Doing things forces anxiety to melt away.  Avoiding them only makes it fester beneath the surface.  

On that note, this blog post is good enough.  I have a lot of errands to run, so I will publish this, and start ticking items off my to-do list.

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