I have another story to tell you. This family photo was my Christmas card thirty-one years ago. One of my dearest friends received it and declared the image and my family perfect. I politely thanked her and marveled at how one click of a camera lens can convey such deception.
I’m coming to grips with and only recently admitting how much my quest for perfection affects everything I do. It’s not hubris, in my definition. It’s a terrifying need to manage details and control.
This photo is a great example. I had to schedule weeks in advance and the only timeslot available before the holidays was at the end of November. It was at 8am the day after my sister’s wedding. I booked it because I was desperate.
The kids were cranky to get dressed up so early. My husband and I were fighting about who knows what and my beautiful dress reeked of stale cigarette smoke from the reception the night before. I had just started blow drying my hair when the power in the house went out. I finished my make-up in the dimly lit bathroom. We arrived late to the studio and had to beg to have them take a few shots.
Personally, I was in an incredibly bad place and completely unaware it would lead to a mental health crisis six months later. I wasn’t eating or sleeping much and my life felt like one of the flooded staterooms on the Titanic. The door was bulging, water seeping around the edges and the whole thing was about to burst.
Perfect? Not exactly, but I tried awfully hard to look the part. As I take stock in how I approach my life three decades later, perfectionism makes me late, frustrated and ultimately insecure. I have laid the blame squarely on my need to make my book perfect for why it’s not done. It’s a completely unattainable goal resulting in a hamster wheel of self-doubt.
I’m taking steps to counteract the rigid standard I’ve set for myself and the zero tolerance policy I have for mistakes. March 1st, 2020 is my final line in the sand. No more editing, tweaking or supposed improvements to the manuscript. It’s going to have to be good enough.
(*I took a snap of an original photo for this post and had to re-do it four times because it wasn’t, um, you get the picture. I’m still a work in progress.)