Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Perfectionism and its evil twin

I was thinking last night about the name of this blog, and how I bet a lot of people expect it to be about problems with perfectionism, or at least a blog by a perfectionist. I really did come up with the name because I had been calling Zoe dog OLOP, but it's true that perfectionism has bedeviled me ever since I was raised by a perfectionist.

Most people react with surprise when I say I have problems in this area: "Wait, you think *you're* a perfectionist??" That's because perfectionism walks hand in hand with its evil twin, fear of failure. And these two little monsters conspire to turn a certain subset of perfectionists into procrastinators.

My recent career change -- editing for a living -- was a definite move into a field that demands a person to be nitpicky about language and grammar. I am trying to get all the errors out of a document so that it can be perfect. Luckily, I'm pretty well-suited to this task -- and yet I still freeze up totally when confronted with a new project. It's a terrible vestigial feeling that I haven't been able to shake my entire life: "what if this time, I just can't do it? what if this is the project that shows me to be a complete fraud?"

I was thinking about this last night because I received a really great performance evaluation, which I'm not telling you in order to brag (ok, maybe just a little) but to show that I am good at my job and yet I still have these fears of failure. It's as if failure is lurking around every corner.

This isn't a post with a lot of answers. It's a topic I expect to explore more as time goes on. Usually, when procrastination rears its ugly head, I try to somehow muster the strength to just start the project, which in itself is the hardest part! Once I've started, I'm more than halfway there. More on this in later posts.

1 comment:

Alison Hymes said...

When I was in college, many moons ago, I procrastinated all the time. There was a popular saying at my college: "Done is good", but I could never relate,I wanted to write the perfect paper and because I couldn't be sure of doing so, of course I would put it off until there was so little time I could excuse its lack of perfection by telling myself it would have been perfect if I had put more time into it.

Something has changed as I have gotten older, but I'm not sure why. Maybe it's not getting grades in the world outside college or maybe it's acquiring a disability, but now I can relate to "done is good".

Don't know if this is a helpful comment or not of course...