Sunday, July 14, 2013

Future Perfect?

I am a perfectionist, though you wouldn’t know it to look at me.

It bugs me when people flippantly use the term to describe themselves. You know, like in a job interview when they are asked, “What’s your worst fault?” and they answer, “Oh, I am such a perfectionist!”

Perfectionism is real and it’s not fun to have.

Some perfectionists, it’s true, have alphabetized spice drawers and sock drawers organized by color. All their papers are in order. Everything in their house, from their attics to their recycling bins, is ready for an Architectural Digest photo shoot. One woman, the first time I met her, in a playground in our new neighborhood, answered my question, “Who's your pediatrician?” by telling how she had begun researching and interviewing doctors before her child was born, then reeled off, from memory, not only her pediatrician’s number, but the numbers of several that she hadn’t, for various obsessive reasons, chosen.

Other perfectionists, like me, however, secretly believe we are supposed to do like that, but it’s just way too overwhelming … so we sit, amidst our funk, our piles of books and papers, our undone to-do lists, and feel bad.

Why are some people perfectionists, of either type?

I’m no expert and am only going by what’s in my own head, but I think it has something to do with a lack of patience, an inability to enjoy the present moment and the unshakeable belief that perfection is attainable. If only I could just stop being such a slug and try hard enough, if I could muster enough will power and focus (which I could, if I wasn’t such a jerk), I could, I think, attain this state someday.

Then again, I should have always been there, so I'd still be a failure.

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