Perfectionism. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? You know, I have always had a tendency to want to make everything perfect. Sometimes this would stop me dead in my tracks from doing a project because what if I did it and it wasn’t perfect? What if I started it and couldn’t get it right? It’s much safer to never start, that way I never had to deal with it being anything less than perfect.
Then I enrolled in college in my mid-30s. Wow, going back to college after all these years. Now I have homework and deadlines! Eeeek deadlines. So now I have no choice but to write a paper, you say? And I only have until the 5th to do it? What if it isn’t good enough to turn in, how many revisions should I do, what if I’m incorrect in following the instructions?
I went and talked with one of my professors about my fears as an older adult coming back into a younger person’s world and attempting college and he told me to turn in something that is good enough. I had never thought of that before…good enough. Good enough for what? For whom? How do I find the point of good enough and stop?
That’s when I figured it out. Good enough is when I’ve put out my best effort and I’m done. I don’t have to fix this little thing or that little thing, it’s good enough as it is. I quickly learned that good enough was plenty for everything. I didn’t have to stay up all night several nights in a row, actually I did better when I didn’t do this.
I have now earned my Associate’s degree and my Bachelor’s degree and am working on my Master’s degree, and you know what? I’m still doing good enough work, and it has earned me graduation honors for my first two degrees, and will continue to do so as I’m working through my Master’s degree. Perfectionism is a mirage, it’s that place in the desert that doesn’t exist. No one is perfect and no one produces something that is perfect all the time.
I also like to quilt, and I thought I wouldn’t ever be able to do that because I can’t sew a perfectly straight line. Then I started looking at my beloved quilts from my grandma, I really looked at them. I noticed her lines weren’t perfectly straight. Yet people have always loved my grandma’s quilts. Looking at the stitching tells others that the quilts are handmade with love, not that my grandma was imperfect.
That’s the valuable lesson we all have to learn. Doing something good enough is perfection. A craft project may not have perfectly sewn lines or done as perfect as a machine would, but we are not machines. It is time to drop the perfection thinking and start doing things again with love.