Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Personal Perfection

About twenty years ago, I came out to my parents and the world did not cave in. But I did start seeing a Christian therapist at Pacific Christian College shortly after that. During our discussions about the conflict of homosexuality and Christianity, he pointed out that I had 'perfectionist tendencies.'

What? Me? Hell no. I mean, no way!

I had dropped out of UCLA at the end of my freshman year. I was working at Disneyland and going to dance class at night. If I were truly a perfectionist, I would be able to stay in school and work and take dance class regularly.

I had thought.

The therapist used my messy bedroom as an example. I had told him that I can't truly clean my bedroom unless I have a block of at least seven hours to do it completely.

That example has stayed in my mind for the past two decades. It's helped me to realize that, for any overwhelming project, sometimes it is enough to just do a little bit each day. Not that my bedroom stayed consistently clean after that, not until I met neat-nik Domestic Partner, anyway. And not that he would agree, that I am clean enough.

What is enough? I still struggle today with feeling that I fall short of my own perfectionist ideals. If I were perfect, I would have both time and energy to exercise everyday. Ideally, I would blog every day and also write a little bit more of the first novel every day. In a perfect world, I would exercise and write on top of going to work for that paycheck thang and spend time with friends and family, and still feel that I was giving enough time and attention to Domestic Partner and the various pets and the house cleaning.

If I were truly perfect, I would be able to volunteer and join Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, and be a reading tutor, and take on more choreography projects, etc.

In a perfect world, I would sleep fewer hours and get more accomplished.

My life is not complicated. I do not feel overwhelmed. Lately, though, it has been easier to just channel surf from the couch and consume even more vast quantities of chocolate. Oh, and log onto facebook several times a day.

I am beyond glad that President Obama has been inaugurated. Finally. And I am inspired by his election into office. What I need is yet another swift kick in the pants. But for now, I am relishing the feeling of renewed commitment President Obama has been giving the public.

I actually like feeling that I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

What is your personal perfection?


Georgia said...

My personal perfections are very similar to yours. In fact, until I read your "messy bedroom" example just now, I didn't think that was strange at all. I too have that "it all needs to be done NOW", and it's so bad that I'll give up and just surf the net since I can't devote myself to whatever project 100%. I call it procrastination, but I'm sure it has more to do with perfection. I'm inspired by Obama too, though, so here's to us!

Peter Varvel said...

Wow, instant gratification in a first response!
Thanks for visiting. Love your newly decorated digs!

Sunshine said...

I definitely have perfectionist tendancies and some of those have had to adapt once children came along because never the twain shall meet.

Your example about the bedroom is SO me. I'm like, "I can't tackle Project X right now, I don't have 8 bazillion hours to complete it perfectly!" and when I do try things in more limited chunks, realizing I can get a lot accomplished in an hour, I get mad at myself for not allowing those smaller time frames to come to the forefront in my thinking.

It's frustrating being this flawed! lol

Cheryl said...

You tapped a vein directly to my brain. When I was in high school, I had immaculate dresser drawers and a pile of junk in the middle of my room that was literally three feet tall. I couldn't just put my stuff in the drawers haphazardly, because then they wouldn't be perfect.

Now I'm of the little-at-a-time school of thought (it's really the only way to write a novel), but I'm still a perfectionist because I get obsessed with spending all my time doing little bits of different things. Luckily I have AK, who believes in the value of getting out of the house and having a drink now and then.

Mike Valentino said...

In keeping with the tradition of "Bush is not my president", I'm left with nothing else but to say that Obama is not my president. Therefore, I feel nothing. Like Dick Cheney before me, I feel nothing. No hope. No cheer. No regret and no remorse. The current condition of myself and of the country are neither good nor bad, they just are. We will continue to exist in this state until our demise as people and as a country.

In conclusion, don't clean your room. It will just get messy tomorrow.

quin browne said...

my friendship with you to get closer would be perfect.

having youknowwho remember why we started talking would be perfect.

figuring out where i'm going to live would be perfect.

and, since i believe in what the universe has in store for me, i know these things will happen.

that, and mike will learn to love the o to the b to the ama.

golfwidow said...

I like myself and my life better when I don't expect perfection. Once there's nothing else to aspire to, I'm bored.

Movin' said...

My personal perfection is to be a good parent and have days where I don't feel like I have failed in some way at parenting or disappointing my kids or myself in it. Mine is living simply and making wise decisions and feeling peace, no matter what is going on around me. That way I can handle anything.

mr jp said...

hmm, we're all so perfectionist about ourselves. That's where all the unhappiness comes from!

Louise Larsen said...

Oh my GOD!

Pete and I just had a "heated discussion" about this!

I said I need about 9+ hours of uninterrupted time to clean up the house. He says why not do a room a day when you have the time, and I tried to explain the problem: I can't only do ONE room.

Once I'm noticing all the stuff to fix, I can't stop till it's all done!

One room at a time? Never.

I'm cursed with being very all or nother about things like that.