I am a perfectionist.
Ok, not one that most people would recognize as one. My brand of perfectionism is that when I can’t do something perfect – at least perfect in the way I designed something to be – I don’t want to do it at all. It is the reason that when I get a new notebook that I have deemed will be dedicated to writing something everyday and I miss a day – I rarely go back to the notebook. I have not completed my task perfectly and so I can’t make myself go back and start again…it will not be perfect.
That is how it manifests itself in my personal life.
But at work – well that is a different story. Perfectionism means I hold myself to an impossible standard. I will work myself into a frenzy to be sure that I am not the cause of an issue. I will put my own health and needs to the side and I will push and push myself beyond what I thought I would ever be able to do. All so I can be seen as perfect – not be perfect – but be SEEN as perfect. This pushing is almost always tied to how others see me…my boss, my clients, my team members. I have to be better. I have to be flawless. I have to be perfect.
As you know, perfect does not really ever happen. One man ever was perfect and he died on a cross for me. Other than that, we are all flawed. But still I persist in pushing myself so hard in order to try and achieve this impossible goal.
Mostly, I hate letting people down. I hate the phone call when a client calls you or you have to call them and explain there is an issue. I hate the disappointment I hear and feel when it becomes apparent I have missed something that I should have seen. It often moves me to tears of frustration and humiliation that I was not perfect. That someone had to see how imperfect I really am.
In my line of work, it can easily feel like we are trying to save the world. The missions of the charities are so close to us and to our client contacts, that it is hard to have any perspective of how big of a deal the particular issue may be. It all feels like life or death in the moment. It all feels like the end of the world. It all feels like my lack of perfection is going to cost the client in money or resources that are vital to their efforts.
I am in a season right now where mistakes – mine and others – are causing a great deal of heartache. One came to light yesterday and I have been up all night beating myself up for making such a dumb mistake. I know how it happened. I can retrace my steps and I know how to stop it from happening again. But I can’t seem to let go of the fact that I made the mistake to begin with. It feels like a death has occurred. Like I killed something that was good.
I know this all sounds so melodramatic. I can hear the echos of “it’s just direct mail” or “snap out of it – you can’t hold yourself to that” from past mistakes. And as right as I know that is, my Type A, driven perfectionist personality can not seem to let go.
I wish I could just let this go. I am told “we will get through this.” I just hope I can get out of my own way to do so.