On Easter my Mom loaned me the book, “Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist,” by Amanda Jenkins. Until I read that book, I had no clue that I was a perfectionist. My Mom must have suspected (or knew) since she loaned me the book, but it was a shock to me.
After all, how can I be a perfectionist? My house is not perfectly clean and my yard would never look like something out of Home and Garden. My hair and makeup aren’t perfect and I’m lucky if I can find matching shoes for Samuel because he hides them like Easter eggs.
In reading this book I discovered that the tell-tale sign of a perfectionist is not having a seemingly perfect life it’s wanting to have a perfect life.
I want everything to be perfect — at least what I imagine perfect would be. I look at my semi-clean house and think about all the ways that the house could look better. There’s at least 15 different things I could think of that would make my house look more modern and nicer if I just had the money to do them. Not only do I have a mental list of everything I need to do inside to make my house perfect, I have a list of everything that needs to be done to make the outside perfect.
It doesn’t stop there…I also need to make sure that Jimmi and I are the perfect parents. We need to be conservative and strict at all the right times, but have the wisdom to know when to be lenient and allow my kids free will to lead to natural consequences.
Timing is everything. If it were up to me we’d be about 10 minutes early (at least) to everything (except work). Sunday School doesn’t start until 9:20 and it only takes 10 minutes to get to church from our house. If we don’t leave by 9 a.m. on Sunday morning I start to unravel. If it looks like we might not get to leave by 9 a.m. I start to feel the anxiety get the better of me. We have to be there early because it would be the end of the world if we showed up to class after the majority of the people were there. Geez, they’d see us walk in and look at us.
Plans are everything. I need to plan things out several days in advance — sometimes at least a week in advance depending on how big the occasion. For example, I’ve been looking at cake ideas for Josiah’s birthday since Samuel’s birthday in February. Josiah’s birthday isn’t until June. I’m not planning yet, but I’m pre-planning. Not having a plan when we’re going somewhere or doing something frazzles me. If we’re going somewhere I need to know who’s going, where we’re going, what time we’re going and what time we might be back. Changing or canceling plans is difficult for me and if I’m not strategic in my response it resembles a temper tantrum especially if I feel like the changes could have been prevented by better planning.
I’m not proud of this. I’m almost 26 years old and a change in plans is enough to derail my day. Make me late or anything less than 10 minutes early and I’m probably going to be very frustrated even though I might try to hide it. It will probably take me 20-30 minutes to recover.
I’m trying to do better. In a lot of ways I’m doing better now than I was a year ago, probably even better than I was a few months ago. I try to catch myself before the monster takes over. Sometimes it works and I can catch myself before it starts. Sometimes I catch myself once it’s already gotten started and I have to try and bring myself back to reality.
The first step is admitting you have a problem. We have to be honest with ourselves about our ugly faults. We have to be truthful to ourselves and others if we’re ever going to get better. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to be real. I will be posting more about my problem with perfection. Because the thing is, I’m not the only one that is a perfectionist. I’m not the only one to ever be shocked by that realization. I’m not the only closet perfectionist.
Hi. My name is Erica and I’m a perfectionist. Are you?