Monday, September 6, 2010

On Being a Perfectionist

Last night, I was digging in, looking for lists of free Kindle books. I found a list of the top 100 free Kindle books. I was surprised to find a free book, Overcoming Perfectionism: the Key to a Balanced Recovery by Ann W. Smith. That was a jolt to me, and I can’t get it out of my mind.

Is being a perfectionist considered something “wrong”? Is it something we should fix? I think it is not learned behavior or environmental. My brother is the classic example of a slob. He is certainly the opposite of a perfectionist. I’m a classic example of a perfectionist, and we were reared in the same home, same environment. Neither of us has ever wanted to be like the other.

I do understand the importance of doing things in moderation and not becoming obsessive. I have been thinking about the problems of being a perfectionist when I felt I wanted to stop this blog. In my mind it was going to be a joyous celebration of my success losing weight. I saw it as a journey that would be downhill all the way to the finish line of 124 pounds. Maybe I would stumble over a few little holes in the road, and some days it might be a tad uphill. I never imagined a MOUNTAIN.  A crisis the first week and certainly not one that took the whole summer to live through. I do believe I’m on the other side of the crisis, but I am feeling mighty bruised and bloody. It’s taking me awhile to find my way back to getting on a diet/exercise wagon.  I did work through my little tantrum about closing down my blog. Why would I think that I needed even less to write and vent about my life when things were going very wrong or at least rocky? So I think I’ve dusted myself off, and I see that it was wrong thinking. I need to do this and keep finding ways to be successful and achieve my goals.

Being a perfectionist is the way I am. I don’t want to change that. I wouldn’t consider changing from being a girl. Or a mother. Wife. Christian. Friend. Why would I want to change and be a slob like my brother? Then I would have candy wrappers, Little Debbie wrappers, Golden Arch sacks and packing…maybe some old French fries from the week before, littering up my car. And I Would.Not.Care!!! He surely wouldn’t want to be like me. My brother is happy. Being disheveled, untidy and messy just doesn’t cause a blip on his screen. He is a good and kind man, and people love him. He doesn’t want to change that.  By the way, I adore him just the way he is.  But again...I don't want to be him.

It occurred to me that the term slob is offensive, but I couldn’t think of a nice term for the opposite of perfectionist. I went searching and found one word in Wiki answers: under achiever. I suppose that is kinder, but I spent my teaching career working with under achievers, children who weren’t working up to their potential.

I can understand why the book is selling for $0.00. I do not know a perfectionist who is trying to be a slob or an under achiever. The thesaurus gives these words for a perfectionist: stickler, purist, somebody who likes to do things properly, obsessive, thorough person, and uncompromising worker. Except for obsessive, that looks like a list of admirable attributes. There are those great reality TV shows about “The Messiest House in the Country” and “Hoarders.” I don’t think there will be much call for shows about perfectionists. I would like to hear what other people think about being or not being a perfectionist.


  1. I'm not a perfectionist. But then, I'm not the opposite, either. The older I get the more I acknowledge and embrace my OCD/anal tendencies, which at times might resemble perfectionism, but aren't. (just come look at my house on some might call me a slob!)

    As long as someone is happy with themself, living a constructive life, etc.... what difference does it make if they are or aren't a perfectionist?

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you made the comment about keeping things in moderation and not letting it become an obsession. Moderation. That's such a good word for so many areas of our lives!! (I need to remember that with my eating habits!!!)

    Good post with lots of food for thought!

  2. I gave you an award, stop on by! Thanks for all you share, it makes a difference in my life!

  3. Hi, Sam. Maybe it's that I'm not sleeping tonight. I sent you a message that I couldn't remember your blog name. Geez, here it is. I also had to admit that I don't know how to get my first ever award on my blog. Thanks!