Perfectionism

So, recently I was accused of taking everything too seriously. Actually, I get that a lot, but this person (who I respect a lot) implied to me that my seriousness might be a symptom of a bigger problem: perfectionism. Then I was recommended a book called Too Perfect, a self help book about perfectionists and the problems they face.

Now, I immediately refuted this claim. I am far from a perfectionist. In fact, I am probably the most unperfectionist person I know. If it works, leave it alone, that’s what I say, and I’ve annoyed more than one person with that attitude.

However, my refutation was not total and so I decided to check out the book. Amazon has their nice look inside functionality and so I checked out the first few pages, which describe people who might need to use the book to figure out how to live saner, better lives. I’ll list out the descriptions with my thoughts in red:

  • The person so driven to meet professional and personal goals that she can’t abandon herself to a few hours of undirected leisure without feeling guilty or undisciplined. This is so not me. I don’t know if I do anything that doesn’t qualify as undirected leisure. Heck, even blogging could be considered that.
  • The person so preoccupied with making the right choice that he has difficulty making even relatively small decisions usually regarded as pleasurable: buying a new stereo, choosing where to go on vacation. I am not picky at all, and I am not scared to make choices. If I am shopping for something, I will spend no more than 15 seconds making a decision between any of several options.
  • The person so finicky that his pleasure is spoiled if everything isn’t “just so.” Nope.
  • The “thinkaholic” whose keen, hyperactive mind all too often bogs her down in painful worry and rumination. To some extent I have this; but not to the extent of painful worry. It only goes about as far as what I would call insecurity about my actions, and even that only happens now and then.
  • The perfectionist, whose need to improve and polish every piece of work chronically causes her to devote much more time than necessary to even inconsequential assignments. Nope, though I have worked with people like this. So painful. Again, get it working, once it works, never look at it again.
  • The person so intent upon finding the ultimate romantic mate that he seems unable to commit to any long-term relationship. We’ll have to see on this one. I’m single for the first time as an adult. I’m not averse to settling, though, to some extent. After someone passes the threshold of “She makes me happy and I can make her happy” then that’s good enough for me, and I think a large minority of women would meet that criteria.
  • The person so acclimated to working long hours that she can’t bring herself to cut back, even when confronted with evidence that the overwork is ruining her health or her family relationships. I’ve worked longer than my 8 hours in a day maybe once.
  • The procrastinator who feels angry at his “laziness” – unaware that the real reason he is unable to undertake tasks is that his need to do them flawlessly makes them loom impossibly large. I am lazy, and I am something of a procrastinator, but I am not at all angry about it. I’m actually pretty comfortable with it.

So, that’s the first list. Then, on the third page, there is another list of traits of perfectionists:

  • a fear of making errors Nope
  • a fear of making a wrong decision or choice Negative
  • a strong devotion to work HAHAHA
  • a need for order or a firmly established routine I could take it or leave it
  • frugality Yeah, this one fits
  • a need to know and follow the rules In a competition or a game, yes. In life, absolutely not.
  • emotional guardedness Not that I can tell
  • a tendency to be stubborn or oppositional Only because it’s more fun than being agreeable!
  • a heightened sensitivity to being pressured or controlled by others Nope
  • An inclination to worry, ruminate, or doubt Negligible
  • A need to be above criticism – moral, professional, or personal I defend myself, but everyone deserves criticism
  • cautiousness No
  • a chaotic inner pressure to use every minute productively Unpossible

So, I don’t think I really fit the stereotype. If you do, maybe this book is for you. If you think I do, let me know where I’m wrong! If it will help me, I will do anything, and taking advice from friends is usually a good way to become a better person.

In short, I am lazy, but I get the job done and I don’t do much fretting about it.

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