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Anality Deconstructed

Posted on 2013.02.16 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114

During my corporate-mandated furlough I used the opportunity to paint the living room, dining room, both offices, the kitchen, and the bedroom. A daunting task since I've never really done anything like this before. I'm pretty sure I've rolled paint, but that's been about it.

I started with the kitchen because its the smallest. It also had the most trim, something I was unaware was going to take so long. I also didn't tape the woodwork, choosing instead to cut it in by hand with a chisel sponge. Then, using a small roller, I applied the first coat too thick and it ran in places.

The next room I started with the roller deciding to save the trim last thinking it would be quicker. It really wasn't.

The third room I taped. I was amazed at how quick and easy taping was! I thought this would save me tons of time and that I would end up with a better result. I didn't. When the paint was dry after two days and I pulled the tape I was aghast to see that it had bled either through, or under or both. That and some of the paint peeled the paint away from the wall. I guess I should have made an incision between the two prior to pulling.

While all of this was taking place, I was thinking about having recently been told, "You don't have to be perfect at everything." Yes, I have been accused of being a perfectionist from time to time. But I wondered where the dividing line was between taking too long to complete an adequate task and doing a shoddy job?

Granted the trim work behind the refrigerator could have been skipped - who's going to see that? I remember moving many and discovering a fridge-shaped unpainted spot behind. But is that really the point? Surely there is a difference between being thorough and being a perfectionist. I thought about how I did things at work. Usually we're under the gun to get something up and running or fixed as quickly as possible. That leaves little room to dot all the "i's" and cross all the "t's" so I usually don't sweat it. Sometimes we get to go back later and smooth everything over. Sometimes we don't.

dentin once again brought things into focus by explaining that how he perceives himself is vastly different than how others perceive him - sometimes to the extreme. My mother used to tell me not to compare myself to other people. As a youth I didn't understand this because saying something differs from explaining it to them, and I didn't have anyone else to compare myself too outside my contemporaries. As I've matured, however, and understood that I don't require external validation from those who have a life plan vastly different from my own, I see the wisdom in her statement.

So I decided to stop worrying about whether I was being too anal or too lax, and just enjoy the process. To do the job to my own satisfaction rather than to the wildly subjective satisfaction of others, and to remind myself to apply this lesson more liberally in my life :)


suzanne1945 at 2013-02-16 14:31 (UTC) (Link)
What a fantastic learning experience! You can get all types of wonderful advice, but until you make it your own, it can be useless. The only opinion that counts is your own. I've found this out with quilting as well. If I look at the sewing perfection of the many Mennonite quilts on display in Newton, I've thought, "Why even try. I can't be that perfect." But life is what you make it and all I really have to please is myself. Why deny myself the pleasure of an endeavor just because it's not perfect.
This is a great life lesson.
michelle1963 at 2013-02-17 15:10 (UTC) (Link)
As a child I used to be a perfectionist. It is not all bad if the drive helps you focus and improve - and if you reach the point where you achieve some variation of what you were shooting for. And here's where the rub comes. Some perfectionists choose goals or characteristics that they never seem to attain. and continually make themselves unhappy with their perfectionist mindset. Nothing is ever good enough.

Somewhere along the way, perfectionism did mutate to pleasing myself; not some external definition of perfection. (Besides if you asked any number of people to define perfection and / or give examples of it, you would get as many different responses as the number of people you asked.)

I even strive for perfection in behavior and interactions. That said, I had to learn that in interactions, I am only half of the equation. That some people like complaining, that they enjoy having something to bitch about, and they are ever vigilant about being persecuted. Not my idea of perfection, but I can only control me.
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