It occurred to me today, that I might be a perfectionist, perhaps not a huge dawn of realisation to those of you who know me.
The revelation occurred when I mistakenly sent a text message to my father wishing him a Happy Father’s Day, (all the while thinking, I am so sorry Dad that I’ve been so slack this year).
It turns out I am a week early. Possibly the opposite of slack.
And what was the first thing that happened when I learned that today was not Father’s Day? I began to frantically search my mind for the reason I was right. I came up with three.
1. Father’s Day stuff in the shops, everywhere; cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, dad t-shirts, socks and jocks plastered with superheroes, chocolates, merchandise for a man cave, super hero dvds, onesies (I don’t have the time to deal with that horror here and now). Yes, while it is true that the Father’s Day merchandising machine is powering along, if we applied my flawed logic to everything then, by extension, Christmas can only be weeks away.
2. My dad’s birthday is ALWAYS a few days before Father’s Day. Well, guess what? Not this year! Assertions have always been a strong point with me, proving them could perhaps be considered a weakness.
3. My husband had accepted my many eloquent apologies for not pulling it together properly for him this Father’s day. You see typically, I am an amazing gift buyer. (Possibly only from my own perspective – but I am never wrong – so it must be true). This year I felt I had failed, he had graciously accepted my self-deprecating apologies. Possibly because I’d managed to convince him too that it was Father’s Day. Poor man.
Then poor man, I turned on him for finding it amusing, and having accepted my profuse apologies. Then finally as expected, I turned on myself for being so foolish. What an embarrassing mistake! What was wrong with me? Had my IQ markedly decreased overnight, or has it been a gradual process that I’ve been unaware of? Has everyone else noticed? How could I have spent the whole week thinking it was Father’s Day, this Sunday, today? Well, I decided, I guess Mum and Dad can have a good laugh about it, I couldn’t then, but I could instantly see everyone I know finding this hilarious.
I had this feeling of increased anxiety – my chest was tightening, I know my face was flushed with embarrassment. How idiotic – how embarrassing! At this point in time a maximum of 6 people knew of my mistake and I was one of them – and even in that moment I could be pretty sure that I was the one being hardest on me.
As perfectionists we need to realise that we are in fact the people who are hardest on ourselves. No one else is wondering, What on earth is wrong with her? No one else is under the misconception that I am perfect. No one could ever judge me more completely or critically than I can. We all have people in our lives who don’t get this about us (if you don’t, be thankful and keep an eye out). They will and do try to hurt, criticise and belittle, sadly for them however, no matter how hard they may be on us, we will be infinitely harder on ourselves.
This all happened on our drive to church this morning. I had spent the day before completing the church contacts book and preparing the Father’s Day craft activity for the class to do. Both pieces of work I felt (possibly still feel) sure would be worthy of being photographed and pinned on boards.
Now, the humiliation of being a week early!
A variety of thoughts ran though my mind. Scrap it – it’s silly to be doing a craft activity the week before Father’s Day. But I hadn’t prepared a lesson long enough to go for the time without the craft factored in.
My husband, again the voice of reason, broke through, “Just do it – it’ll be a week early. The kids can hide it away for the week.”
This from the man who’d been out the back cutting the blocks of wood I “needed” to use, for his own “surprise” present. Then I started to think of what I would to say to anyone else who might’ve been in this situation, “Isn’t it better to have done something early rather than forgetting all together?” You see, it’s fine for others to fall short – in fact I’m one of the first to point out to others that they don’t need to be perfect. But I guess I’ve always wanted to be the perfect person telling others it’s ok not to be perfect. To be successful and tell others that failure shouldn’t be the end, it’s a stepping stone to success.
It is true we are harder on ourselves than anyone else will ever be, then I wonder is that why we do it? Self-preservation, we think it stops others from doing it.
It has been a very busy week, extra meetings at work, assessment items to mark, church commitments, it’s a three kid week at our house – those are naturally busy. It’s been a good week to learn, maybe that’s how to do this better, learn more, strive for perfection less.
Things I’ve learnt about myself as a perfectionist and my perfectionism.
1. I am one. – well, at least according this test – the answer was a resounding yes. http://stress.about.com/od/selfknowledgeselftests/a/perfect_quiz.htm
2. I am my own worst critic.
3. No one other than me is expecting perfection from me – no one.
4. Writing a blog for the first time is difficult. Especially when it is about perfectionism and perfectionist tendencies.
5. Choosing a theme for a blog is difficult also. How do I choose something that will be perfect for all I want say now and in the future?
6. My perfectionism could, and should, be considered an area of sin in my life.
7. Christ is perfect, I don’t need to be, I can’t be, I will be one day in heaven when I’m clothed in His righteousness and perfection, not just yet. God sent his perfect Son to live a perfect life for me – because all those years ago God knew me. He knew how short I would fall from my own view of perfection, let alone His. So He sent someone who was perfect in every way.
8. God’s view of perfection and mine are different – His is right. My view brings me praise, His view brings all praise and glory and honour to His son. Because he’s the one who’s done the work.
Hebrews 10: 12 -14 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at
the right hand of God … For by one offering He has perfected those who are being sanctified.
9. I need to live in this truth. I am being sanctified.
So now the pressure is off and I have one week ’til Father’s day. Maybe it’s time to check out those onesies, and relinquish my belief in my own gift buying perfection !!