MWF Seeking Perfection

I'mNotPerfectLately, I’ve felt picked on by the world.

A grammar mistake in an offhanded comment.

A tone in a nonchalant phone conversation.

A blog decision from two years ago.

I want to yell LEAVE ME ALONE and WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, and I do! during my imaginary conversation with these people in my kitchen completely with hand gestures and witty retorts.

Until I realize: I AM THE PROBLEM.


Yes, these people are annoying, but if I didn’t think I should be perfect, I wouldn’t get so upset.

Of course, I don’t think: I just got caught not being perfect!

I think: I’ll try harder and show them! I’ll be so awesome and cool that they will stop talking about me. I’ll be friends with everyone. I’ll reread my posts 18 times. I’ll say hi louder or quieter or whatever it takes to have no one say about me what I don’t want them to say.

When I was young, I would hide my mistakes. I remember biking back to my house when I was 7 or 8 years old. I had to pee but just could not pedal fast enough. I ran upstairs and threw my urine-soaked underwear and pants to the bottom of my laundry basket without a word to my mom. I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble, but I didn’t want anyone to know.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown into myself more. I don’t think my ideas, beliefs and style should match those around me. I am not a chameleon nor am I rebelling against the norm because it is the norm. Even online, if people call me a crazy liberal or a crazy Christian or great writer (haha), I’m fine because those are parts of me I chose to put out there to be picked apart.

I am okay with who I am, but I still hate messing up what I do. Mistakes like forgetting my kids’ school bags or mistyping their/there feels sloppy and avoidable. I think: If I had just paid more attention, it wouldn’t happen.

But I cannot pay attention constantly. I can only have so many to-do lists and reread so many posts before I have to move on.

No wonder I’m exhausted.

Why can’t I remember mistakes happen to every person? I am not immune and having my humanity pointed out to me or to others is not a big deal unless I make it a big deal. Unless I act like it shouldn’t happen.

I don’t need people to stop picking on me. I don’t need to try harder. I need to stop pretending that perfection is attainable.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

25 thoughts to “MWF Seeking Perfection”

  1. I have the same problem. I have to remind myself all the time to not punish myself for the littlest things. It’s hard. Perfectionism and a life-long habit of over-achieving is a deadly, unrealistic mix. I’m working on being more forgiving of myself.

  2. When I’m reading posts that other bloggers have written I don’t dissect it for proper grammar or spelling. Not that things like that aren’t important, but I know that we’re all moms who are beyond busy and sometimes we make mistakes and I’m okay with that. I know that I make them all the time!
    You’re right though… perfection is not attainable. Anyone that says that it’s possible is a liar.

  3. As a recovering perfectionist I know exactly what you mean when you say: if I didn’t think I should be perfect, I wouldn’t get so upset. I forget that there is a balance between being comfortable with your mistakes & being challenged to do things well. However, on days when I find that sweet spot between the two extremes, I’m happy. So I suppose I should aim for it more often, huh?

  4. It’s so hard when a pile of little things pounce at once. Perfectionist or not, feeling picked apart by many sucks.
    (And yes, you can’t be perfect, but not pointing that out is called tact and giving others the benefit of the doubt is kindness and for some reason I’m angry with whoever pointed out these little things. Irrational me.)

    1. I do appreciate being given the benefit of the doubt, but I spend so much time begging for that from people that I need to look back at myself. Being angry, frustrated, sad or hurt is my first feeling but I clearly react for longer than necessary, which is a reflection of my desire to be perfect and not have anyone find anything to attack that I haven’t put out to attack.

  5. Oh, Alex, no wonder I love you so.

    These are the tapes in my head.

    Ssshhhh…when I was “young” I used to keep a notebook where I wrote down every single one of the mistakes I made, and I’d read it over and over determined to not dot hem again.

    I’ m not even kidding.

    LOVE YOU, So much.

  6. Yep. I’ve definitely been there. I often find myself revisiting past mistakes that probably weren’t thought of once after the person who pointed it out said it. The funny thing is, I much prefer to be friends with people who are a little flawed, so why would I think people would prefer the fake ‘perfect’ me to being around the awkward, genuine one?

  7. Just one little word helps me. “Bygones.”

    I really hope I’m not the only one who remembers Fishisms from “Ally McBeal.”

  8. You always have the right words. Even when saying you don’t always have the right words.

    Your honesty and transparency is why your blog has quickly become one of my favorites. (Okay, it’s because you’re a BAMF liberal, too, but WHATEVER.)

  9. Ok first I read the title as “Monday, Wednesday, Friday Seeking Perfection”. Because I am a teacher and MWF and TR mean things to me that they don’t to other people.

    Secondly, I notice grammar stuff in people’s writing, but unless it’s a consistent misuse of a word (like “loose/lose”) I write it off as just a typo. But of COURSE when I see myself make a typo I freak my freak and wonder if people think I am just not as smart as I am supposed to be.

  10. I’ve made several (almost daily) written mistakes on my blog, on facebook, on Twitter, in my emails…When people call me on them I tend to beat myself up, but then I think about all of the mistakes I see other people make. I just assume they are typing too fast, typing while tired, and doing the best they can to get their voices out there. I try so hard to be ok with my mistakes and to accept my inability to be perfect with grace and with the same forgiveness I allow for others. We really are our own worse enemies. Other people have forgotten our mistakes moments after pointing them out. We cling to them like they define us in some way.

  11. But don’t you see? THEY have the problem, not you. People who give a shit about any of the stuff you do other than making them think and laugh and hugging your kids and selflessly giving to your husband have a problem.

  12. YES! I don’t know who doesn’t struggle with this really. I know I totally do from being a people pleaser until I realize someone might be crazy, but up until the crazy part I am full of sadness and anxiety thinking i may have unintentionally offended someone or messed up. And I am also defensive and have a tendency to make up conversations with people in my mind adding in emotions for them they actually may not feel. BLAHHHH!

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