Tuesday, April 9, 2013

To the Perfectionists Out There…


Nope. I’m not one of you. Perfectionism is one of the afflictions I have not been burdened with.

 It’s evident not only from my occasional typos on this blog and my disrespect for conventional writing-rules, but from the blatant joy I seem to take in putting less than polished posts on chat boards without hiding my identity. I’m just happy to be there and to put myself out there. It’s FINE.

I had a friend years ago who made the most elegant ceramics. She would not allow the flawed ones to be displayed. By “flawed” I mean the tiniest imperfections you’d need a microscope to see.

Another old friend made exquisite textiles. Few of her pieces were ever completed. There was always something wrong with each. A stitch out of place the size of a microbe, and the piece was relegated to the shredded heap of dusting cloths.

I also have a relative who has been working on the same first half of her first book for thirteen years. By now the text is barely coherent from all the critical surgeries it had endured.

Now you understand why I see this not as a search for excellence, something I understand, admire and participate in. Perfectionism is a serious affliction.

There is a saying attributed to the Muslim mystic Ibn Arabi: “The universe’s imperfection is part of its perfection.” More than seven hundred years later Leonard Cohen said it this way: “…Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything- that’s how the light gets in.
^^^Celebrating the cracks and imperfections.^^^ Come dance with me.


16 comments:

  1. I do love the 'universe' and Cohen sayings. And imperfection to one is beauty to someone else. I'm learning how to crochet now; my skinny scarf is FULL of inconsistencies! But it is progress toward the goal of learning how to make the gorgeous afghans I've been pinning on Pinterest. So, for me, all that encompasses learning a new skill is perfect! Great post, Mirka!

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  2. I've been chipping away at my perfectionism and have made a little bit of progress. I think it helps that my husband is much more laid back than I am, so he's been loosening me up a bit. :-)

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  3. Perfectionism can definitely hold a person back from achievement. It can also drive you nuts because you're seeking something that isn't attainable. I used to let my house drive me crazy. I was unable to sit back and enjoy myself unless all the chores were done, but then I figured out that the chores would never be all done so I might as well live a little.

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  4. Nothing is ever perfect, even if for only a moment we might think it is. :)

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  5. Nobody's perfect. I think we can only be the most perfect versions of our imperfect selves. :)

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  6. Only God is perfect ... we say this every week. So I allow myself to be human :)

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  7. I see my daughters struggling with perfectionism and I don't know where they get it. I work hard to do my best, but I am not crippled by that particular affliction. My mother knit scarves a few years back. If she made a mistake she would unravel and start over. I tried to convince her that the mistakes added character. She found that funny, but I think it's realistic.

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    1. Ruth, you may have just pinpointed where your daughters get it from....
      Even if they never met your mother.
      I believe obsessive traits (perfectionism is one) run in families.

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  8. Excellent post, Mirka. I have perfectionist tendencies, but only for certain parts of my life. (Housekeeping is definitely not one of them. LOL!) I think my mathematical background inclines me to want things I'm creating to be neat and orderly.
    I agree with Vijaya--only God is perfect. But Jesus, in the context of urging us to love others, says, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt. 5:48) So I think perfection in some areas of our life is worth striving toward.

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  9. Perfectionism isn't a burden I carry around either, thank goodness. Although I'm always trying to improve and the little errors in things I produce annoy me, it's all a part of learning and growing. And I think being willing to DO and to BE is way better than being paralyzed by fear of whatever it is not being perfect. Love this post!

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  10. Thank you for this, Mirka. What a wonderful reminder to those of us with perfectionist tendancies! I am going to print out a copy of the I'M PERFECT sign with the cute little stick figure guy and post it over my desk! = )

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    1. *Perfect* {;=)} use for this, Becky!

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  11. I remember when my 6th grade teacher announced to my mother, "Marcia is trying to be a perfectionist." The truth is that I was going through a annoying period of correcting others' errors. I'm not sure it's the same thing. But I have an interesting childhood emotional "thing" about mistakes, which is great ore to mine. :)

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  12. I have the opposite problem. I'm not a perfectionist. But I'm learning to pay better attention to details!

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  13. Thank you for this post! I've always set high expectations and when I don't reach them, I get pretty harsh on myself. I'm beginning to appreciate my cracks and light beaming through more. :)

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