There’s nothing wrong with doing your best. In fact, we’ve oft been told by our mothers and mentors that one should always try to do their best. Mediocracy is generally unacceptable in this cruel dog-eat-dog world.
So then when, and why exactly, does doing your best go from being productive to a down right problem?
I call myself a Near-Perfectionist because I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist per se; as clearly evidenced the moment you step into my humble 2nd floor abode. My apartment doesn’t look like Hurricane Katrina packed up and moved in, but it’s obvious I didn’t get the nick name Messie Jessie for nothing. There are many areas in my life, even beyond the doors of my living space, in which “half ass” is completely acceptable, and generally preferred.
But in other sectors I definitely hold myself to unrealistic expectations, and more often than not think that no matter how many atta-girls come my way, I could have done some part of the whole shabang better. This will continue to haunt me and eat away a little at my precious little soul until I get a chance to do another something that gives me the opportunity to try and get it exactly right. But like any cyclical pattern, it doesn’t get any better and the problem simply continues.
I seem to have happened upon conversations involving my two favorite things in this world ( a. Me, and b. topics that I have already been internally chewing on for a while) in the last week. I’ve talked at length on the subjects of mindfulness, embracing who you are, focusing on the present, focusing on the process and not the product, and the very real negative health effects of perfectionism. And let me tell you, being the ultimate self-analyzer I am, none of the information was new to me as I have been a student of all the aforementioned for quite some time now.
So the question I pose here is: why is it that within some people resides the mindset that it is ok to know you could do better, but yet simply leave it as is, while for others “as is” will never be enough because there is always something that can be improved upon? And further, how is it that those dichotomies can live within the same person, only exposing themselves in different circumstances?
It is at this point I would like to introduce you to the Navajo Nation. These expert rug makers and beaders intentionally leave slight imperfections and flaws in their work, because in their theory only the Great Spirit is perfect, and we as humans can never achieve perfection. We could all stand to learn a great deal from the Navajos in this respect.
However, I would like to point out the irony in this strategy. If you are intentionally designing flaws into your creation, isn’t your completed project exactly how you wanted it, which is in turn making it “perfect”?
Either way, I think I am going to take my cue from the Navajo, and take a first step towards releasing the grips of “I can do better than this”. I am going to intentionally leave this post as it is, already knowing I don’t like the cadence and structure of the published product. And sure, I will look back at this post some day, cringing as I do so, wonder what the heck I was I was thinking, have the urge to hit “edit” to fix all those little mistakes and fantasize about rewording the sentences so they are just right.
But I’m not going to do that. This is one of those circumstances where I have the insatiable urge to make something perfect, but I’m going to fight it. I KNOW I could do better (and if this is your first time reading my blog, continue to peruse my posts, if for nothing else but my sake).
This time, I’m going to let half-ass be just right.
And to all my fellow (near-)perfectionists out there, I suggest you choose one thing in your life and, even if just this once, let it reach it’s full half-ass potential. I feel your pain, but I know you can do it… perfectly.