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Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Perfectionist

The Perfectionist


 Anyone out there a perfectionist? If there is one thing I am not, it is a perfectionist.  I am more of a “that’s-good-enoughonist.” 

The problem with being a that’s-good-enoughonist is it may not be a fast track to success in life.  

The problem with a perfectionist is they are never…ever…happy.
I was married to a perfectionist for many years.  If ever there was a combination destined for failure it would be pairing a that’s-good-enoughonist with a perfectionist.
As a that’s-good-enoughonist I could overlook flaws and imperfections.  As a perfectionist, she could not.  Actually wife #1 was worse than a perfectionist, it is one thing to not overlook a flaw, it is another to take a fine-tooth comb and a magnifying glass and not quit until you find something to complain about.
The first time I knew I was in deep trouble with this conflict of acceptance was when I wall papered a small kitchen in our first apartment.  I don’t think anyone wall papers anymore.  For you young people, wall paper was a paper product with patterns which you stuck on the wall instead of painting.  It used to be popular, but it was a giant pain to apply.  Wall papering was a skill that took much practice and patience.
One of the great difficulties in wall papering was matching the seams of each strip of paper that you applied.  If you had a flower pattern, you needed to match up the correct flowers in the correct pattern.
For this particular job, I was by necessity, a perfectionist.  Anything else in wall papering just looks horrible.  There is no good-enoughonist in matching a wall paper pattern.    
The room was tiny, but it still took hours for me to finish…well almost finish.  There was a two-foot by two-foot area between the stove and the wall that I did not paper.  The space between the stove and the wall was maybe three inches.
A perfectionist would have unhooked the stove, pulled it out, and papered the 2x2 area with a perfect matching piece of paper.  A that’s-good-enoughonist would take any old piece of 2x2 paper, apply the glue, reach in and slap the paper in willy-nilly.  The only way to see that the strip did not match the rest of the pattern would be to peek into that 2-3 inch opening with a flashlight and check it.
Who the hell would do that?
Who would see a beautiful job of wall papering and instead of praising their husband for doing a very nice job with a very difficult pattern, would complain and be miserable about a flaw that could only be observed when you peered into a 2-3 inch gap with a flashlight?
“No one will ever in a thousand years ever know the paper does not match in that small crevasse between the stove and the wall!”
“I’ll know it doesn’t match.”
Any question why this relationship did not go the distance?

22 comments:

  1. I think I stopped being a perfectionist when the kids came along. Especially if you want to teach them to do chores, they will get it done, but not the 100% way I would do it. Had to release some of that "perfectness" I wanted to make sure they got the idea that they needed to participate in the working of a household. We lived in a house with the most hideous of wallpaper. Gold brocade with black stripes running through it. Thankfully it was only in one room. When we bought the house, I said "that's the first thing that is going." Five years later we sold the house and yes, that wallpaper was still on the wall.

    betty

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  2. Sigh, you had no clue from the get go, I take it. That's too bad. Well, there is no accounting who we fall in love with and when you lose those rose colored glasses, it is a shock. Surprise!

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  3. If there's an easy way to do things I'll find it. This, of course, often rules out perfectionism. Live is easier that way.

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  4. I'm only a perfectionist about things I care about. Fortunately, I don't care about much! I can't imagine caring about wallpaper behind the stove.

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  5. Wow....that's all I've got....just wow. I used to be a perfectionist but it took too much energy to maintain...now....as long as nothing is moving in the corners, everything is just fine.

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  6. "Good enoughist" Ha ha. I'm certainly not a perfectionist but I was raised by one. My mother's house is always spotless. I don't have the energy to be a perfectionist.

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  7. At every crisis in my life, long ago, I would rewallpaper the house. Being a non perfectionist, I neither treated the walls or took down the old layer. I heard from old neighbors how the new owners felt about that when I sold that house in Mentor.

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  8. “No one will ever in a thousand years ever know the paper does not match in that small crevasse between the stove and the wall!”
    “I’ll know it doesn’t match.” <--- stepmom and I had this conversation just last week.

    I am definitely a that’s-good-enoughonist. ...mostly

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  9. Close is good enough for me too. I don't need all the stress of having everything perfect. That never works out, but it does give that person ulcers or worse.

    Have a fabulous day Joe. My best to Mrs. Cranky. ☺

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  10. I confess that I'm a perfectionist, someone who can't stop until I can't do any better. Years ago we had a tile guy working in our kitchen and when finished he called me in to the kitchen to point out a flaw in his work. I told him if he pointed it out I'd make him tear everything out and start over. At first he didn't believe me but I finally convinced him. Years later I still hadn't found the flaw.

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  11. It would be tough enough to live with one but I can only imagine being the perfectionist has to be a constant frustration of seldom being satisfied. Lucky you--and me-- too not be consumed.

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  12. I've been married over 50 years to a perfectionist. Luckily, living with me all these years has caused him to loosen his standards.

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  13. If you are a brain surgeon, be a perfectionist. Same with many other things that just have to be done correctly or you could hurt/kill someone. With most of the rest of life, do your best and let it go!

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  14. I was once married to someone like that. It didn't last long.

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  15. I'm a selective perfectionist, but mostly I'm a general that's-good-enoughonist. Especially when it comes to housework. You could eat off my kitchen floor, but that's because there's enough crumbs for a feast.

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  16. Like a few other commenters, I'm somewhat of a perfectionist with some things. My kitchen is spotless because I don't want to find out what salmonella poisoning feels like. Other parts of the house are much messier and less clean. I used to be more obsessed with having things perfect, but kids and getting older slowly cured that.

    Isn't wallpaper one of the worst things ever?

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  17. I'm only a perfectionist when it comes to doing or making something for someone else. If it's just me? Meh. Close enough is good enough. :) - Wall paper.. Thats some memories...

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  18. No question at all, that sort of perfectionism is just too hard to live with. I used to be a perfectionist about some things, but not others. For instance at work, I had to get it right and at home the dishes had to be done right, if the glasses didn't sparkle I wasn't happy, beds had to be made as smooth and straight as possible. For everything else near enough was good enough. Now that the kids are gone and I don't have visitors dropping in so often, I don't care as much as I did. But my bed is still made straight and my glasses sparkle.

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  19. You just described my mother and fathers marriage. He could never please her. She always complained. He kept trying. She kept bitching. After 32 years and torturing 5 kids, they divorced.

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  20. There's a saying that "Good enough is best." I think the film industry uses a saying called get the shot, we'll fix it in post.
    To me, the most productive people are the ones who do a prototype and then refine it. It doesn't have to be perfect. What's perfect for one person is amateurish to another.
    R

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  21. Yeah, most of the perfectionists I've run across are harder on everyone else than they are themselves which, in a way, kinda makes sense. If you can make everyone else FEEL like your efforts are better/perfect then you've won the competition 'cause they'll just give up trying ....

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  22. ... and the other primary perfectionist I've endured is the one who's so wrapped up in doing everything perfectly that they don't get half done what they could get done .... and THEN they complain about everyone else's 'half-assed' efforts to cover their own. ;-)

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