August 28, 2012

confessions of a recovering....

...perfectionist.


If you were to walk in my front door, you would be cheerfully greeted by legos all over the front living room. Like covering almost every square inch.


If you walked by the desk, you'd see crayons ev-e-ry-where. Like all over the desk. Inside the desk and littering the floor under the desk.




If you walked into my kitchen, you might see dishes stacked in the sink. They are rinsed though. Because I can't stand prying dried oatmeal from bowls. 

My pantry and closets have no rhyme or reason. I used to dream of having my pantry so organized it would rival that of  M Stew(Martha Stewart). Not got happen any time soon. 

And if you were to open a junk drawer...eh...you better not. 



My dining area and family room are generally picked up, otherwise life is outta control. And I try try to clean the boys' bathroom frequently, in case anyone stops by to whiz. Because it would just be rude otherwise. Rude I tell you!

If you walked into my bedroom, you would probably see that I forgot to make my bed. Which drives my hubby nuts. Once upon a time, I was wheeling and dealing, and convinced him to spot me some cash for a Petunia Picklebottom, in exchange for me making my bed for a whole year.  I looked so sincere, he must have said yes. What a sucker. That lasted about all of 2 or 3 days. Not a fact I'm proud of. 

And my poor master bathroom. Looks like a gas station more often than not. Once again. NOT something I'm terribly proud of. 

And of course, when you are taking pictures to post on OH SAY YOUR BLOG, you can always tilt the camera at just the right angle to crop out the messy areas of your home...or better yet, lower the aperture so that the background is superrrrr blurry. So thanks for that, Canon. 

My point?  I am not a stereotypical perfectionist, and if you were physically walking through my house during the day you might not know I had a problem.  Rather, I have "pockets of perfectionism". Only certain parts of my life are plagued by perfectionism. For example, there are some perfectionists who literally label and color code their pantry and closets. Their houses are spotless all the time. This was never the case with me. 

Other people are meticulous with their appearance. Their clothing and hair are immaculate. Also not the case for me, at least most of the time. I get into terrible ruts and wear the same thing all the time. My latest uniform consists of denim cutoffs with a black v-neck tee. And I wash my hair every 3 days. Don't judge. It's pretty much awesome and you should try it too.

So. Where does my perfectionist side emerge?

It pops out in projects that are important to me. Like when I try to sew a lil quilt, I get super picky with the fabrics, especially the color and scale of the design. I've been known to dye fabrics on occasion, or even sew/embroider a pattern when I could not find what I wanted in the stores. THAT IS NOT NORMAL PEOPLE. Seriously. If a fabric did DID NOT EXIST, I forced it to exist. I'm laughing now, because that is CRAZY. But that is the person I used to be. It was like I was in a trap. I knew it was insane, but I just couldn't break out of it.

I remember making a pumpkin cake with some friends for a baby shower. The orange color of the frosting was too bright for me. I kept making my friends add MORE AND MORE brown dye to make the orange more muted. My friends thought I was nutso. They called me a color snob. And rightly so.

When I was in high school and college, I was perfectionistic about my grades. Only A's were acceptable. That's a lot of pressure for a kid. "If you don't get good grades, you'll work at a gas station!" my teachers would bark. I would SO take their words to heart...when really they were probably talking to the gang bangers. I went to school with thugs. My hippie parents were great though and never pressured me. In fact, they would always tell me to STOP studying and go have fun. My parents were totes more cool than I was. So wrong, baha.

And the worst was when I invited people over. Now all of a sudden, the house HAD to be clean. I would stay up reallllly late and make extra trips to the grocery store just to make yummy food. It just wasn't fun anymore. By the time company arrived I was too worn out to even enjoy it. 

So WHY was I like this? I never really knew. And to be quite frank. I did not care enough to really change. Until last fall. I was getting increasingly stressed out to the point where it was starting to effect my health. Ya know, like tummy aches and lack of sleep. Plus. It just doesn't feel good to be stressed.

A few weeks ago, my husband handed me a book called Hope for the Perfectionist. He told me to read it "so that I'll understand him more". He's kind of a "pocket perfectionist" too...takes him FOREVER to mow the lawn. And he'll stay up til midnight doing lesson plans. This would make me all cranky and nag him.  

A few things from the book REALLY stood out to me. They might even cure you if you are a perfectionist...and if you are not a perfectionist?  It might help you understand that annoying delightful friend of yours. *wink*.
 Like this part WOKE ME UP. I'm going to wildy paraphrase here, k?

>>>>>Basically it's because of pride.

Wait. What? Me, prideful? Nawwww.

Read on.

Everything has to appear perfect because we are prideful. We want to be perfect, like God is perfect. It's the original sin of Satan. He wanted to be like God in heaven. And it also was the first sin of mankind. Adam and Eve took the fruit so that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God.

Yup, every bad thing on earth seems to have its root in pride. 

To me, this fact make perfectionism easier to deal with. I don't need a 12-step program to rid myself of perfectionism--I need Jesus. And his forgiveness when I'm prideful. And I need to stoppit. Only God is perfect. I am not.

I'm not judging anyone but myself here, ok?

>>>>>Instead of striving for perfection, strive for excellence. What is the difference? To me, it's a heart issue. We should try to do the best we can on a project, with the time, money and talent given us, for the GLORY OF GOD...rather than the glory of ourselves. It's a subtle shift, but a major one. People on the outside may not ever know the difference, but in your heart, you will know. 

I always just KNOW when I'm crossing over to the dark side. Like when I was working on Lindsay's baby shower, I wanted flat long skinny popsicle sticks, so they my paper doll center pieces would lie flat, rather than puckering.

The old Davi would have driven her wheels off to every store in search of sticks that did not exist. The new Davi called a few stores, got all angsty.....but eventually recognized that these sticks probably didn't exist, and instead worked with the sticks from Michaels.

My dolls puckered a bit. They were NOT perfect. But I ended up having fun with it.

Nobody cared. Because it didn't really matter.

But still, initially, I had to fight an internal battle over it. 

Someone striving for perfectionism will try their hardest on a task, never being satisfied, always wishing for the impossible. It's not realistic.

Someone striving for excellence will be satisfied that they did the best they could. They don't compare themselves to others. Let's just face it. Some people are more talented. For example, when I was in art class, we had to draw a pumpkin. I spent hours and hours agonizing over my pumpkin drawing, yet it still didn't look real. I'm just not a talented artist. I got to class and one of the boys forgot to do the assignment. In 5 minutes flat he drew the most amazing 3D pumpkin I have ever seen. So rude. I cannot expect myself to do that. It's not realistic. 

>>>>>Perfectionists often deal in extremes. To them, things are black&white, never grey. Things are all-wonderful or all-terrible. They have an all-or-none attitude. Like in college, I had to have an A or nothing.

If they can't do something perfectly they won't even try. Because how horrible to try something and fail. Or worse, to be average. Once again, I see pride rearing its ugly head. Everyone can't be the best at everything. Heaven forbid you are average at a particular task. Average. Can you even deal with being average? I know, I know. It's a hard pill to swallow. But in the end, its good for us because it makes us more humble.

God opposes the proud, 
  but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6


And by humble I don't mean "woe is me, I'm so untalented". I'm talking about having the right perspective on who you are, compared to God.

If you are a perfectionist and you try at something and fail? Let me give you some tips. You need to realize that (1) You are pretty cool for trying, because you were brave (2) Even if you failed at one job, that does not mean YOU are a failure. So what? You screwed up on something. You are not perfect. It's ok. It means you are only human. Don't be so hard on yourself. 

And my personal favorite: 

>>>>>Perfectionists think that everyone must like them. 

This is just not rational. It is not possible for EVERYONE to like you at ALL times. Perfectionists tend to be people pleasers and go through great lengths to make people happy. And they will often push themselves to the point of ridiculous stress, just to keep the peace. Been there, done that. Don't care to go back. But I've since learned, that I am limited and can only do so much before I get diarrhea, lol. TMI. 

It's ok if someone is upset with you, if you cannot meet their expectations. 

Really?

Yes.

This one was news to me. I hate disappointing or upsetting someone. But it's inevitable. I'm human. I make mistakes. I'm going to disappoint people. Of course I should try to live at peace with people and apologize when I'm in the wrong. 

>>>>>Even if you STINK at something new, you might have tons of fun doing it.

But you will never know if you don't try. Basically, if you are a perfectionist, you are missing out on a lot of fun in life. Isn't that sad???!!!! I think so!

For example. I can't dance. I'm not coordinated. So I tend to avoid it. But it's fuuuuuuun. My sister recently gave me a workout DVD that involves some Brazillion dance moves. I look ridiculous when I'm practicing{and practicing. seriously girlfriend cannot dance} and my husband laughs at me. But I am truly having SO MUCH FUN. Who knew?



Since reading the book, I now purposely look for ways to be non-perfectionistic. Then I reward myself with a cookie. I kid.

>>>>>My husband was out of town and I was home alone with 4 boys. I suddenly got the urge to write some hand-written letters to some friends. I thought of going to target for some cute stationary. I needed something to reflect my style, right????? But I realized it was not realistic to drag 4 boys into target. The old Davi would have abandoned writing letters. All or nothing, baby. I realized that was silly. I had some perfectly serviceable stationary in my drawer.

I did not have a lot of time before dinner. So I quickly wrote on ugly stationary, before I lost my nerve, and sent them out. So if you got an ugly card, I'm kinda sorry;) But trust me. It was actually a compliment to YOU, that I had faith you would not judge.

>>>>>When I have a project that needs to get done, I give myself a set amount of time and stick to it. No more nit picking. This also means I get to bed on time because I'm not up late working. Bonus.

>>>>>Some dear friends were coming for a little visit from out of town. I was exhausted after a few days of VBS. They would be arriving at dinner time. Our budget was low and there was no time for elaborate food prep.

Quick, what do I do? Now that I am no longer a perfectionist, there are now some fun options!

"John, can we invite them over for hot dogs? And chili out of a can?"

I was getting SO excited. I LOVE hot dogs!!! We cooked frozen fries, chopped some watermelon, boiled up some corn and I even had the energy to make brownies! My house was a little messy. Of course I cleaned the boys' bathroom, on account of the whiz. The boys and I looked disheveled. We had the BEST.NIGHT.EVER.  I am a new person.

C'mon over for some hot dogs, ya hear?????

p.s. that was lonnnng and you deserve a badge if you made it this far. 

32 comments:

  1. i love this, because today, i was taking some photos of romes and after i viewed a few of them, i literally thought to myself, "erg. bad angle, davi probably always stands in the right spot, and that's why her house looks so clean, i need to stand in a better spot and hide that laundry!" lol.
    but really. i want your wood floors. and roman loves hot dogs. we'll be right over :)

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  2. Here, here Davi! Welcome to the land of us who celebrate our averageness (making up words is another bonus to accepting less than perfection)!
    Honestly, even as a non-perfectionist I have to fight the pride battle daily as I am tempted to think that I can make my life a certain way and tempted to judge others when they make different choices than I would. Thanks for sharing what you have been learning about weeding that sin out.

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  3. Can I just say, I think we were ment to be... My house is also wall to wall Legos. Why? Because I am trying to sew a dress that I see in my head but it doesn't really exist (probably because it's a pain in the rear to sew). I also never make the bed much to my husbands dismay, but I have been known to spend hundreds of dollars to make a birthday party just right. This post really hit home with me, thank you for taking the time to write it. I read and enjoyed every last word :)

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  4. Where's my badge??? I want my badge! :)

    You are awesome. I seriously just learned so much, the most important of which is that I'm prideful. Ouch. But good for my heart. Girlfriend, I would love to come over for hotdogs. We love hotdogs! :)

    xoxo

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    1. haha, i'll be right on it with the badge;)

      and i'm not really awesome at all. but thanks for thinking so. but i'm just a girl who loves the Lord.

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  5. Yep, pride truly is the source of most sin, I think. Anything you do to make yourself the center and not God which is what we are all WIRED to do, it seems. Even having low self-esteem or self-pity is a form of pride. It's not humility. It's still a focus on oneself. Anyway, good food (hot dogs or otherwise) for thought. Oh, and hi... fellow mom of boys here, found your blog a while back through Lori, through Karen Norvell who is my sister-in-law Lydia's sister-in-law. So yes, Lydia has two sisters-in-law named Karen. It's a crazy world we live in, I tell ya. :-)

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    1. yes, good food for thought. i thought about it over the last few days, so thanks:)

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  6. Davi girl! I so understand you! God has been working for several years to rid me of my perfectionist tendencies. Oh, the heartache that I have now over all the mis-spent days and hours fussing in my own heart and mind over trying to be perfect. I don't know how others never saw it...frankly, that's why people always asked me to do things...so I started saying "NO". Last year and to a higher degree, this year, I am continuing to do LESS better! and be OK when I had laundry everywhere today when I had a friend over to sew...I knew I shouldn't have stripped the beds last night! :) Oh well!

    Isn't it great to grow?? So tough sometimes but OH God is so merciful when He grows us!

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  7. davi! was fixing to email...but bam! comments open.

    um. wow. so, you are all up in my biz with this.
    i am exactly like this with "pockets of perfectionism".
    and pride.
    ouch.

    love this, love you. xo

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  8. Girl! I need this book, yo. I could relate with each & every one of your words. I heard a little bit of this awhile ago (don't remember where.) What really struck me was how I don't do anything if I can't do it perfectly. If I think I'm going to fail or mess up, I won't even try. It's so sad. I've been thinking a lot on that lately, especially how it relates to what I'm teaching my little ones by my actions (or lack thereof.)
    Plus, there is the pride. Shoot, that is it. Yikes. Yuck.

    Thanks for sharing your heart today.

    Sorry I wrote a book in your comments...ha!

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  9. Great post, made me think and analyze myself. I must get that book now. I take pride in not being a perfectionist, though reading this post made me realize I am when it comes to company hmmm....

    Thanks so much for sharing this,

    Kristi

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  10. I love this post. I love that you're real, you're honest, and you always make me laugh. True friends LOVE coming over for hot dogs. Because they're not really coming over to eat. They're coming over to BE with you :)

    p.s. Every time I read your blog I wish I had a yellow flowered wall. EVERY TIME.

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    1. you should have a yellow flower wall in your house too!

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  11. Such cute pics of Calvin- it looks like he is enjoying your non-perfectionist ways :) and I want hot dogs!

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  12. I can relate to this to the point of ridiculousness. we must be twins. such a good post, and i really needed it. thanks. a. ton.

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing...I needed to hear that! Love your blog! :)

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  14. great reminder!
    especially when it comes to a messy house.... they say a good mom has dirty floors!
    I guess im awesome right now! :)

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  15. I so resonate with this! Thank you! I might go order that book right now.

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  16. i love this. i always felt like a perfectionist because some things had to be just so but then i would look around my house and in the mirror and perfectionist is not what i saw. and i love the tips for curing perfectionism. thanks for sharing!!

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  17. great, great, great post. i also suffer from perfectionism and have to remind myself that it is a pride issue. i struggle most with being "average" and so that verse was exactly what i needed to hear. oh, and i only wash my hair every three days also!!!!

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  18. yes, can i come over for hot dogs? :) love your pictures as usual, so glad that you are enabling comments btw!

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  19. god bless canon and their wonderful aperture settings...for this exact reason.
    i am a firm believer in stewarding what god gives you to do but not having it run your life or become your identity.
    (because i used to do that).
    way to be free! and i love me a grilled hot dog every now then :)

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  20. thanks for speaking my language, my dear!
    i SO needed this!
    i might have to print it out and put it on my fridge...
    unfortunately, i don't have that large of a fridge.
    ha ha ha!
    just bugging ya!
    i love the long posts! ;)
    but it truly was all relevant to me... right now!
    thanks babe!

    (and... thanks for the book suggestion... need to find it... like yesterday!)

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  21. i get this - i am a perfectionist to the core. you wouldn't think so if you look at my housekeeping skills (i don't notice when my fruit goes moldy; yup, it's gross), but i am very all or nothing. so my room goes uncleaned for 2 months because i don't know where to start.
    have you read 'the birth order book' by kevin leman? it's fantastic (and so much more hilarious and entertaining than the title sounds) and it talks about perfectionist. you should read it.

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    1. i'll have to try reading it. i listed to him speak every now and then and he's too funny. his one talk was on the day their daughter left for college and it was so sad i was literally bawling my eyes out.

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  22. This was so timely for me to read today.

    The whole "pockets of perfection" i so get that! My living room is usually pretty orderly BUT if you take a peek into my bedroom, you'll find 12 loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded and 4 more loads of dirty laundry waiting to be cleaned......

    ;)

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  23. oh my goodness, this sounds like me! especially the part about having to have everyone like you and stressing over people not liking you. i'm really picky about being clean. my new thing is i keep everything to one room with the kids. they can make a mess of the family room, but dining room and living room is off limits as well as upstairs. i know that's probably too strict, but it seriously has simplified my life. i can't be running in circles cleaning up the same messes. then if company comes over i stick to the clean rooms :) i'm nuts....

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    1. you are not nuts. makes perfect sense to me.

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  24. Great post! And a much-needed message. Thanks for sharing.

    And I love the adorable pictures you interspersed with the text.

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  25. Best reminder ever to get out there and have FUN! I went scooting with my boys this afternoon..... first time ever as I am so uncoordinated I was worried I would fall off. It was seriously FUN!! I love your blog. I have been a reader since the week you closed off your comments. So Hi..... its lovely to meet you xo

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  26. I have only been following your blog for a few months but I have absolutely fallen in love with it. This post is just amazing! My friend was just mentioning something about perfectionism and feeling like I'm never good enough as being a form of pride but I wasn't totally following what she was saying, now I get it. What a blessing this post is. Something I need to work on, as I am a "pocket perfectionist" as well. Such a great post! Thank you for sharing!!!

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