Thursday, April 14, 2005


Perfectionism is a killer. It kills fun. It kills joy. It kills anticipation. I cannot remember a time when it wasn't looking over my shoulder, nudging me and saying, "Not like that! Do it this way! Do it right!" Sometimes it used the voice of a teacher or a parent, sometimes a friend or a mentor. Eventually, horridly, it's come to use my own inner voice (or one of them) against me, pushing, prodding, demanding, always having a better idea, a better way of doing that to which I'm currently setting my hand. I hate it. I despise it. I would like to strip it naked and abandon it in a blizzard somewhere in a wilderness so bleak and barren there are not even wolves around to shorten its dying agonies.

The problem with attacking anything that has wormed its way into becoming a part of us (or our perceived and/or operational identities), is that we can't do it without taking a bloody hunk out of ourselves. Every withering word we chuck in the direction of that snobby little shoulder critic cuts a curve like a boomerang and whacks us in the back of the head, usually wounding some more vulnerable self-aspect that didn't deserve it at all while the perfectist snickers, "That's what you get, you bumbling fool."

There is a way of unmanning the little bugger, though.

Cindy: (Rolling out biscuit dough for the girls' breakfast)

Perfectionism: You should be feeding them bacon and eggs. This is little more than paste with lard in it.

Cindy: They don't eat eggs; bacon takes too long.

Perfectionism: You're rolling that dough too thin.

Cindy: (Humming, picks up biscuit cutter, pauses thoughtfully, then poises it over the middle of the dough and begins to lower it.)

Perfectionism: Wait a minute! You should start at the outside edges!

Cindy: (Smiling, continues to lower biscuit cutter.)

Perfectionism: No! You'll waste dough that way! You're doing it all wrong! The edges! The edges!

Cindy: (Widens smile, very deliberately presses cutter into center of dough.)

Perfectionism: (Near hysteria) What are you doing?!?!? You're doing it on purpose!!!!

Cindy: (Gleefully and enthusiastically cuts biscuits totally at random.)

Perfectionism: Arrrrgh!!! (Runs screaming from room.)

A most satisfactory way to start the morning, I assure you.


David said...


alaiyo said...

Oh, so true, so true! You may remember my life-changing decision not to correct a mistake on a cross-stitch I did (unless I was doing it for you, in which case I would never have admitted to the mistake in your presence . . . I hadn't gotten that free from the malady!). It is a marvelous, freeing feeling to choose to be imperfect! I just love the picture of you smiling gleefully above the biscuit dough . . .

Joyella said...

Your rebelliousness is inspiring...I always start at the edges ;) Maybe next time...

Cindy said...

:::just back from a good but exausting weekend and greatly cheered by your friendly commiseration (not quite the work I want, but it will have to do):::

David--I thought you might understand. :)

Beth--It would have delighted me to have received a "mistaken" cross-stitched piece! A tradition of some Amish quilt makers is to purposely put a mistake in each quilt to signify that only God should be perfect. (Remind me of this often, will you?)

Joyella--Oh yeah! You go, Coolyella! If you feel really wild, you can even space them too close so that they're not perfectly round!

Cindy said...

Not the WORD I want (I wrote "work"). Oh well. It's to the point. :p

Anonymous said...

preach it sister...just what i needed to read this morning...
would love to have permission to print this off and share with others... :o)
blessings cindy,

alaiyo said...

If I get some time this summer while making Christmas gifts for the itsy-bitsies, I will make sure you get a cross-stitch -- and I am quite sure at this point in my life it will have some sort of mistake in it! (I may or may not tell you where!) I'd heard the same thing about Indian weavers putting deliberate mistakes in so as not to offend the Great Spirit. It is a good point . . . I'd thought of lots of bad reasons to be a perfectionist, but I'd never really thought about its being an attempt (however subtle or unconscious) to be like God. Hmmm . . .

Randy said...

That's terrific. I struggle with the same in weird ways.

Cindy said...

Kelley--You most certainly have my permission. I'm flattered that you asked.

Beth--You don't have to cross-stitch for me. Just keep writing those lovely blog entries.

Randy--Now I'm intrigued. Tell me more about wierd perfectionism. Or better yet, blog about it. THAT I would like to read!