Last week we were watching some cooking show, and this lady couldn’t finish her dish because she was so meticulous. she couldn’t let anything go. she had to understand every little detail, check and double check all the ingredients, the dish had to come out perfect -or it was a disaster , all in all- the stress was pouring out of her all through the hour.
I personally thought it was hard to watch.
My partner -on the other hand- was very sympathetic.
The reason being- as opposed to yours truly- he is definitely a perferctionist.
He never leaves the house unless he checks, double checks, and checks for the third time- the oven, the keys, the destination, for at least 10-15 minutes.
He sits down in his car-ready to go -and then starts checking if his seat is in the exact same place it was yesterday afternoon when he parked the car.
mind you that change is highly unlikely-since he is the only one using this car- unless an alien decided to visit us earthlings, open his car- of all cars in this universe- and -of all things that alien could do with his time- fool around with my partner’s car seat.
I’m not saying this scenario is totally impossible. things happen.
Then he checks if he put his water bottle in the exact same place he put it yesterday- and the day before, if the mirrors decided to take initiative and move around when everybody is sleeping, etc.
When he decides to do a wood project- he is tremendously talented and almost everything at our house was handmade by him- it takes at least a day of pre-designing, a day of measuring, another day of adjusting the previous design to the accurate measurements, another day to get the exact supplies needed, another day of rest before starting the job- and half a day of actually doing it- since-as I said before- he really is talented.
These are just examples- there are more.
On the other side of the tiny house- there’s me.
I start a project- gardening, cleaning, cooking- at the exact moment the idea pops into my head.
I get up and get going- not checking if I have the exact ingredients ( I am not talking basic stuff- but exact condiments and garnishes. well maybe some basic stuff substitution will happen too- you never know..)
I love cooking, and gardening, and most of the time I like cleaning too- and I refuse to turn any of them into a tedious meticulous chore.
For years the debate at our house was which method is more efficient:
The steady- detail respecting -perfection fan -will last forever version-
or the quick fix -let’s tackle problems as we go along -the important thing is to be done and enjoy the result even if it’s not perfect version.
turns out there was no real reason to climb so high up that argument tree.
(can you spot our white cat up there? I gave him a big applause for this trick. he was oblivious).
When my partner and I paused the cooking show to discuss my reaction to the cook’s inability to complete the task because of her need to be perfect, he asked me outfront what exactly was bothering me.
“I can’t stand it when people act as if perfectionism is a good thing” I replied. “It got to the point where your’e supposed to list it as your one and only “flaw” in work interviews, knowing darn well that not only is it not a flaw, but actually a virtue in the eyes of interviewers”.
“so what is the point of that obsessiveness anyway? everything is temporary, nothing lasts forever, and the attempt to make anything perfect troubles me from the philosophical point of view”.
“silence. each contemplating his/her actions”.
“you know” he said, “I am a perfectionist too, and I can tell you that for me personally, it’s no virtue, but a real burden”.
“?”(me- still have’t found a ladder to climb down that high tree of righteous “philosophical” anger I developed).
“yep. the time I spend checking and re-checking every move I made, every plan I make- you really think I don’t understand that 80% of it is fruitless? I simply can’t help it. If I don’t double check and triple prepare- I can’t go on with a project. for me it’s kind of an OCD thing almost. not a leisurely pamper of a spoiled “I have the right to be perfect and I will exercise my right here and now at everyone’s expense”, but more “I have a problem and I am trying my best to learn how to cope with it”.
“actually”, I said- once safely on solid ground, “maybe this is simple envy I am experiencing…maybe the thought of people actually having the ability , patience and skills to make something absolutely perfect, simply makes me feel inferior, with my “oh I finished that chore 2 weeks ago, procrastination?? you kidding me??done is my middle name!” and so on” .
“maybe”, he said. “you can be happy with what you are, and not get upset with other people’s traits?”
“But what will I do with all the free time I will have, if I stop judging and criticizing other people?????“
Enjoy- the cooliflower.