Being a Perfectionist

With just two days into the new year and hopefully starting with the new year resolution or the bucket list I wrote about in yesterday’s blog, I heard a program segment on the Brian Lehrer Show about perfectionism.  The dictionary definition of perfectionism is a propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards.  I believe perfectionism has its place as we certainly want a surgery to pay attention to every detail performing surgery, or the air traffic controller in the control tower directing planes to land or take off with the greatest precision.   Perfectionism has its positive and negative aspects.  The positive aspects of perfectionism are that it can drive people to accomplishments and provide motivation to persevere in the face of discouragement and and obstacles.  It can provide driving energy which leads to great achievement, meticulous attention to detail necessary in scientific investigation commitment which pushes composers to keep working until the music realizes the glorious sounds playing in the imagination, and the persistence which keeps great artists at their easels until their creation matches their conception all result from perfectionism, according to W.C. Rodel. With negative aspects to perfectionism include being a possible workaholics who cannot relax; people who reproach themselves for the smallest errors or wrong words for days afterwards; the person so intent on finding the perfect mate that they never settle down, the procrastinator, the finicky person, and tend to be exceptionally sensitive to criticism.  This kind of behavior to could lead to a lot of stress, unhappiness, and depression.There are times when I am a perfectionist with certain things in life such as whenever I am baking because chemistry is important to the process and everything should be measured correctly.  Whenever, I knit in the round to ensure that I do not twist the stitches or I could end up with something twisted and unwearable.  I can imagine event and wedding planners are perfectionist, but probably are more on the healthy side as they know that sometimes things can go wrong and need to make any adjustments.   I learned to become an well-adjusted and adaptive perfectionist, and there are just some things I do not care about.  However, I have spent hours finishing up a knitting and sewing project because I wanted to get it just right.  If I made a mistake, I would do it over, but rarely got angry with myself as I learned it is a mistake and it can be corrected.  I will admit to my times of procrastination and that generally comes to something I really do not want to do, so I do it as the last minute such as getting up in the morning to get to work. However, I will not allow perfectionism overshadow the goals I want to obtain in my knitting and sewing for the year just as long as create a reasonable expectation of what I can accomplish.  Which means not making a couture dress when I have yet to sew my first dress or blouse.  It does not mean that I will not eventually build up sewing skill to get to the level of making a gown, but dress will be fine for me this year. 

2 responses

  1. Both my husband and youngest daughter are perfectionists, and it drives me crazy! My husband is a good guy, but is definitely a workaholic who does not know how to play or relax at all! My daughter just tends to stress over lots of stuff, and as a result, I believe I stay tense a lot as well.

    Sewing has allowed me to relax when I’m working on a project, and it becomes clear very quickly that it’s hard to be a perfectionist and enjoy sewing because you will cause yourself a lot of unnecessary frustration.

    I think you’re very wise to take baby steps while learning to sew. 🙂

    Happy Sewing!

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