"Perfectionists need to realize they are actually trying to compete with God."
Ouch. A found this quote on the sidebar of a New York Times article, entitled "Unhappy? Self-critical? Maybe you're just a perfectionist". It came from the reader comment section, presumably after its author read the article linked here. It's a good article, but definitely convicting. It talks about the perfectionist tendency to take various aphorisms, such as "Be all that you can be" or "Never settle for less than your best", to an extreme, and discusses the different manifestations of perfectionism.
As the article states, many perfectionists are proud of their "perfection". Ouch again - how did they know that? I am, admittedly, a perfectionist through and through, the kind that strives to live up to my own standards and has a tendency to feel depressed when I don't. I'm less a perfectionist than some people I know, but isn't it always easy to find someone who's "worse" than you are?
Here's another quote, then a brief story: "If you can’t tolerate your worst, at least once in a while, how true to yourself can you be?"
My "worst" came out at work this week; we've been working to get a proposal approved in a new system at work and finally got a positive decision on it Friday. I was thrilled, for two minutes. I was looking at the dollar amounts approved and thought to myself, "That's not right..." To make a long story short, when I dove into the details and rechecked the proposal with the approval form, I realized I had made a mistake on the approval form, giving the impression we were seeking approval for a much smaller grant. And this after a battle that has lasted 5-6 weeks.
I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide, or bang my head against the wall. Okay, maybe not anything that extreme, but I was so frustrated with myself! It turned out fine in the end and I think it's actually best we had a smaller amount approved - fund raising will be easier in phases and we likely wouldn't have gotten approval for the larger amount in the first place - but it was still so frustrating. How could I miss such an important detail? Will I ever get this job "right"? Of course these are the very self-critical and depression-inducing thoughts the NY Times article discusses, but I have a hard time turning them off because most of the time I believe I'm better than that.
Thank God for NY Times articles that remind me of the truth - I'm not all I think I am!