Confessions of a Perfectionist

It’s true, that’s what I am, a perfectionist, or for those more comfortable with letters, I would be an A type. Because I am a perfectionist this blog post almost never got blogged (don’t let your bad grammar stop you Kristin!) and here is why…it’s because of thoughts like these ones listed below, thoughts that I have more than I would like to admit.

  • Who is going to read what you write?
  • Don’t even start writing it, it will never be good enough
  • Someone else will do it way better than you
  • Someone else has already done it way better than you
  • You’ll make so many mistakes and everyone will point them out
    • or maybe they won’t point them out to you, but they’ll secretly judge you and then when the see you they’ll be thinking, “Oh, that’s Kristin, the one with the pointless, grammatically incorrectly, irrelevant blog.”
  • Shouldn’t you be doing the laundry, dishes, thinking about meals to make your family (that will never actually come to fruition), cleaning around the Keurig machine for 17 minutes like you did this morning….you know, doing anything else other than sharing your thoughts with the world?

And that is just the tip of the perfectionist iceberg.

I feel this pressure that if I start something it has to be perfect, so when I get 10 letters, 10 words, 10 paragraphs in and it’s not what I consider “good enough” I scrap the whole thing and then beat myself up for how much precious time by myself I have wasted and now how much more I have to do in other parts of my life that could have been done already had I not wasted all this time on something that someone else is already doing better than me. (I purposely put no punctuation in that paragraph because that’s how fast my thoughts flow, there is no time for punctuation in my thoughts!)

Yep, it’s rambly (and yes, I will be making up words) and circular reasoning, but it’s my mind.

Add to that the physical sensations that come with it….a heart that feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest, sweaty hands and feet, inability to focus and basically what you have is a typical day in the life of Kristin Edstrom.

I know to the outside world (or so I have heard) I seem very calm, cool and ever so collected. Chilled, relaxed, mellow, go with the flow. So basically what I am is a pretty good actor, because most days, I don’t feel that way. I feel frantic, stressed, burdened, guilty… so, so guilty about never doing enough, being enough, listening enough, producing enough, cleaning enough, being present with my kids enough, cooking healthy food enough, budgeting enough, educating myself enough, relaxing during the moments I have alone enough – can anyone relate to that feeling of hurry up and relax already I’ve only got 45 minute and then I’ve go to be home to relieve whoever is looking after the kids and be thrown full force into the parade of snack requesting, washer emptying, dryer loading, folding, junk removaling (look for that one under the “new words” category in Merriam-Webster 2021 version), vacuuming bliss that I feel is my life.

So how does this not drive me insane? I am tensing up just thinking about it.

Well, I have learned a few tricks over the years (I find therapists become therapists because they know the benefit of therapy through personal experience, be it with another counsellor or through the work they’ve done themselves in their own lives.)

The first thing I do is to breath. I used to hate it when this was a suggestion for calming down. I mean honestly, “thanks Einstein” for that riveting revelation (and alliteration while I am at it). But seriously, deep breathing is like a freaking day at the spa when you do it correctly…and by doing it correctly, all I mean is trying to take the deepest breath you can, hold it for a second or two and release it fully (there, I just saved you from purchasing a $5,000 yoga pass). Breathing…..even as I write about it, I just took a deep breath and it feels so good.

Secondly, let’s talk about electronics. “I want to throw my phone into the lake.” is a true sentence I said with gusto to my husband 26 days ago. Yes, we have technology to thank in regards to many advances we have made as a society, but sometimes I also have technology to thank for my sweaty palms and increased heart rate.

I can have fairly good concentration and then a text message comes in and it’s like a virtual squirrel in my mind and my whole train of thought (which let’s be honest, as a mom is slightly derailed 87% of the time anyways) comes off the tracks completely.

So I have silenced the texts and put my phone away. I try to only look at it a few times a day (I am in training for that) and take 5 – 10 minute chunks of time two times a day or so to respond. My closest friends know that I won’t respond to them right away and it’s not a sign of disrespect, it’s rather a sign of respect for myself and when I can respect myself, I can better serve and respond to others.

Lastly and absolutely most importantly, I have the power of God on my side. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my worries, my stress, my anxiety can all be calmed when I give them over to God, that is seriously the best news ever. God is absolutely unbelievably awesome when it comes to relieving all my anxiety and worry when I just give it to Him – but I gots to give it to Him and that means giving up control, and not having control does not sit will with a perfectionist.

However, there are mornings when I literally open my google calendar and with anxious thoughts racing at the sight of all the tasks I need to accomplish in one week, one day, one hour, I just pray, “God, may my agenda be your agenda.” Any it happens. On days when I do that, when I give up the control and give it over to God my days work out seamlessly. What needs to get done gets done and I don’t stress about the things that don’t matter at all. Conversely, if I tried to control my day, EVERYTHING would matter, I wouldn’t focus on the things I actually got done, I would just stew and worry and fret about all the tasks that went unfinished. So yes, giving my perfectionistic way to the one who makes things work perfectly is absolutely essential.

So there we are, a brief look into the day in the life of a perfectionist and how I cope.

For the record, this is a purposely unedited blog post because to make it perfect would mean that it would never exist. There is beauty in the imperfect and when we can open ourselves up to the gift that imperfection (nod to Brene Brown) can be in our lives, a beautiful, rich, meaningful, purposeful, joyful life unfolds.

Imperfectly yours,

Kristin

One thought on “Confessions of a Perfectionist

  1. Oh my beautiful Kristin!!! How I love this post! I am a recovering perfectionist, and just barely at that. First know: you are doing AWESOME! I can tell that by the joy on your children’s faces and the choices you make to be with your family, etc. The discovery I’ve made is that there is no end to unbalance – we need to learn to live with it. And it’s painful!
    But remember, this is a broken world. We are never going to achieve perfection because of the brokenness of sin. Yet, what a hope we have in Christ – that we will one day achieve a rested excellence. Remember that rest is a weapon against this – every time we choose to lay down a compulsion or distraction we are winning the battle against the enemy. Hold fast to that. I’m always one for book recommendations so I invite you to read some Ann Voscamp. I think you will find hope and poetic joy in her words. I love you, little one and am so glad to see you writing and living out your truth. XOXO SR

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