Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am a perfectionist.

I will never give up the notion that perfection can be achieved.

All forces of nature and culture tend toward entropy, chaos, or at least diversity. Repetition with variation, meaning, no two things are alike.

Still, I believe in perfection. I believe towels can be folded perfectly and floors can be perfectly clean, and linens can be perfectly organized, and newspaper articles can be perfectly error-free—not to mention 140-word status updates and tweets—not to mention a 500-word newsletter going out to 500 people.

If I were to abandon my ideal, which is perfection, then I wouldn’t be a writer. And by writer, I mean craftsman.

Furniture can be perfect. A piano piece can be played without one mistake. Symmetry exists; it’s not a myth.

If the person who designs your parachute is not a perfectionist, and the person who sews the fabric, ties the knots, and packs it scoffs off perfection, where might you be left?

Yay, I am a stubborn believer in perfection and admit it’s torture. It’s like “Groundhog Day”—same shit, different day. Same disappointments, same confusion, same heartbreak, different day. Same doers, repeat offenders, and I keep subscribing because I believe.

If you know me, know I believe you are capable. Capable of perfection. And if you’re not striving for it, or you don’t believe in it, that doesn’t alter my belief in you and your capability to achieve perfection in whatever it is you carefully attend to. Anything less than perfect says you’re not trying.

Of course I don’t mean this literally, but it expresses, essentially, the plight of someone who has an obsessive personality type. Whereas, I don’t think this definition is perfect (being dichotomous and polarized), the article clarifies the condition well enough. It would be more accurate to say we all fall somewhere on the spectrum of perfectionism, from normal to neurotic, including midway points like, “cares a great deal about the precision of details, especially in certain arenas, but not so much as to come unhinged should circumstances fail to yield perfect results” and/or “can discern perfection, and enjoys an aesthetically perfect presentation, though is content not being the administrator of such.”

Where do you fall along the continuum? Are you a perfectionist, like me? Do any of you have a perfect driving record? Perfect attendance? Perfect talent?

When have you witnessed perfection in the arts and sciences? Are you attuned to it? Are you impressed by it?

What piece of music has made your hair stand on end, for being so perfect? Did you ever think a baby or a film or a performance was perfect and feel a sense of sublime satisfaction?

Are you content being sloppy, laissez-faire, enjoying the ride, coloring outside the lines, and letting someone else clean up a big mess?

Do you think it’s legit to say, “I’m too busy, too tired, too old, too hurried, too young, too smart, too seasoned, or too novice to execute perfection?”

Are you willing to practice something for hours? Are you willing to repeat playing a bar of music 37 times until you can play it without goofing? Did you used to be willing, and now are not?

Oh, give me a piano, and I promise to play…

Oh, give me a desk, and I promise to write…

All the notebooks I’ve filled are waiting to be digitized. In ’98 I started a digitization project, and I don’t know where I left off. My Cuba journals deserve to be typed, catalogued, and shared.

I do have precious time, and I sleep through it. I repeatedly resolve to go to bed earlier, so I don’t need to nap during the day, but I’m in a cycle: The midday nap keeps me up late, then I need it again, and since the baby is napping, I take one, too.

But, I hereby declare, starting Saturday, October 15, I will not nap midday. I will be productive while our only child naps, because, God willing we will have a second kid, and these swaths of time may never be mine to sow again!


Galatians 6:7-9

King James Version (KJV)

~7~ Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

~8~ For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

~9~ And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
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5 Responses to Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am a perfectionist.

  1. oliarights says:

    I noticed your perfection when you cleaned our upstate house, I was so impressed. I am the opposite, I have not patience to properly fold a towel. I have no time to get the house in perfect order, just clean enough that I am not bothered by the mess. I do like organization but perfection is out of reach for me, so I don’t strive for it. I do look at amazement at those who do fold the towels (like the day I came back to our house after you stayed there). I was impressed. I am more of a perfectionist when it comes to myself. I try at least to get better and better at things I do. As for music, yes, I do think that some music is perfect but I think it is also just a matter of opinion. John Lennon is perfect… for me.

    • That’s the irony of it all… it IS a matter of opinion, so all the fuss is mostly for naught, AND for aesthetic pleasure. I actually take pleasure in folding perfectly! And, of course, being the perfect house guest ;-))) I think of how many hours performing artists put into practice and admire that kind of perfectionism. We wouldn’t have some masterpieces in the world if it weren’t for that kind of dedication to perfection. Sigh… we can’t create masterpieces every day, especially with toddlers running around. And that’s the beauty: They remind us to color outside the lines and laugh at spills.

  2. Brie says:

    I think that we all have the ability to do some, but not all, things perfect. I think we should find that thing that we do well and pursue it. But I also think we need to give ourselves permission to not feel like a failure for not being perfect at everything. Sometimes good enough is really good enough.

    • Thanks for reading. Of course the middle of the road approach makes sense! I never claim to be rational ;-) I like laughing at my own craziness. Of course sometimes good enough really is good enough. Well put! Please visit again.

  3. Pingback: Love Me, Love My OCD « Mommy Theorist

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