Hi my name is Kelly and I am perfectionist. (Admitting you have an ‘problem’ is the first step, right?) Don’t get me wrong, this trait has been beneficial, but I do see where it has been a problem. Gee, I sure wish I had a Venn diagram right now.
I have a drive to succeed: leading me to graduate #5 in my class and onto a Ivy League College gradating with Magna Cum Laude honors; however, many nights (more than I care admit) I missed out on fun things because I was on a different one-track. I pay meticulous attention to detail: I always cover all my bases; nevertheless, painstaking amounts of time have been lost when it really wasn’t necessary. I don’t shy away from a challenge: I swam competitively for 13 years, never once being the best, but I got so much satisfaction from giving it my all; I’m stubborn and won’t back down, even if it is a hopeless cause. I aim to please: I can work a crowd and talk to most anybody; I hate confrontation and will often not speak up with my opinion for the sake of avoiding an argument.
I think you get my point. I’m not really sure why I am writing this post, but I guess lately I have been giving my habits a lot of thought.
At the beginning of my orientation for work, I was precepted by a nurse “the bi*itch” who was so demeaning and belittling to me that I almost quit (eating their young, anyone?). She called me useless, yelled at me in front of a patient, and told me to get it together. So now, now that I am a real nurse, all on my own, I do everything with this nurse in mind. I write detailed anecdotal notes, I clean and organize my patient’s rooms, I keep them [patients] clean, I label and note everything, I write report before giving it verbally, I do everything like I am preparing to handoff my patients to the b*tch. I guess I have her to thank for this, as everyone is impressed with my organization and efficiency, convinced that I have worked before, astounded that I am a new grad.
Not going to lie, I get that warm and tingly feeling inside when people pay me such a compliment, but I sort of feel guilty. I’m not acting in such a way for other people, I do it out of my insecurities. I’m afraid of looking weak and vulnerable, of looking incompetent. Over the years, I have learned that it’s OKAY to ask for help, especially when charting unknown territory, but when I can figure something out on my own, I find it more satisfying.
More than being a perfectionist, I am extremely independent. For this, I can thank my parents. They provided a warm, loving, and pleasant environment, but they taught us how to be self sufficient. For example: In the 4th grade, I simply refused to put away clean clothes and would just toss them back n the dirty clothes piles after I decided not to wear them. My mom kindly gave me 3 warnings. Then she took me to the store, asked me what detergent I best liked the smell of, brought me home, took out the stool, and said, “Kelly, this is how you do laundry. I am sick and tired of putting all that effort into your laundry and having you be that disrespectful of my time. From now on, you will do your own laundry.” I’ve been doing laundry 12 years.
Or when I was complaining about what we were having for dinner, my mom took out the cookbooks and let me pick the sides (yes, there were nights when we ate salmon with carrots and stuffing or lasagna with cranberry-walnut rice) but she kept me involved in the process and allowed me to feel included.
I always ended up doing the work for the entire group project when others slacked, I was the first to volunteer for tasks others didn’t want to do, I would give anything a shot before I asked for help-sometimes proving disastrous i.e. rake the lawn (only to learn that my dad had fertilized and that I had raked up the strategically placed leaves to protect the grass).
This independence and perfection has played out into my dating life as well. My first boyfriend treated me like a princess, and I liked it- to an extent. But I got annoyed when he wouldn’t think of letting me get my own glass of water, put on my own jacket, etc. I loved the chivalry of opening the doors and pulling out chairs, but I hated feeling like I was smothered. I need a little space. However, I also don’t need to take on another project. I’m not looking for some schlepy guy who couldn’t be bothered with anyone but himself. I feel like I’m a good catch (god this always sounds so conceited) but I’m fun, funny, driven, compassionate, organized, smart, love adventure, and can cook. I’ve been told numerous times, that maybe I just intimidate guys, but why?
At a carnival I had my fortune told. She said that, “Someday you will meet a man who you don’t overpower.” At the time, I laughed it off, but it’s looking more and more like this is the case. My perfectionism is making my pickings too slim and my independence is preventing me from being swept off my feet.
In a day and age where women are out in the workforce, proving their equality, and not settling for less than the best, I find myself torn between giving it my all, and letting someone give me a little.