This afternoon, after several days of exercising what felt like enormous patience, I began to finish off some knitting I have been working on. Carefully, I began to cast off the needles, and slowly my piece began to take form. I was excited. This was the first project that I’d taken my time with, been patient, unhurried, and finished! As the piece came off the needles, I began to see the tiny errors I’d made along the way. Places where I’d purled where I needed to knit. Places where I may have skipped a stitch or two. When the piece was completely off the needles, I held it up. I don’t know what I had expected… actually I do. I expected a store-bought looking garment. Something I could gift to someone and they’d be blown away at the quality. But what I held in my hands was most definitely hand made. There were places where my stitches were uneven, and it became glaringly obvious that this was not done by a professional.
My heart sunk. My expectations had been astronomically high, and I had failed each and every one of them. Not only so, but I could not hide my novice work. I could not cover up the mistakes I had made.
And such is the story of my life. I excel at the ambiguous, subjective areas in life, where attention to detail isn’t important, where precision isn’t highly valued, and where there is abundance of grace, if you even need it, because after all… no one will really know when you screw it up. Life gets so much more complicated when those things become glaringly obvious and your little mistakes become harder and harder to overlook. So immersed in projecting perfection, I refuse to even try my hand at things in which failure is an option… or not even that, where I might just be good at something and not great. If I don’t try, I won’t know, or better, no one else will know that I’m only just average. So I’ll just sit here, and think or imagine that yes, if in fact I did attempt my hand at something new, I’d be grand at it! I’d be fabulous! PERFECT! When the truth is much darker… I know… deep down, I know… that I might completely suck, I might be only moderately good at it, I might not even be able to complete it. But if I don’t try… I don’t know that, right? So I can live a life of delusion, where I am always the master of all I do.
But such a life is only a life half lived. And so… here I am, laying this out on the table, and not really knowing what to do next. What does this look like for me? How to I take this realization and actually change something? Can I be satisfied with a life that’s just average? I think I can… I just need to get there somehow… I suppose the first step is admitting you have a problem.
Hello. My name is Corinne. And I’m a perfectionist.