There are two types of people: people who have a tendency to get overly obsessed with things being perfect, and people who tend to become overly complacent with mediocrity.
People, though, that consider themselves a “perfectionist” would typically think of that as a positive thing.
I know that because I am usually a textbook example of a perfectionist…and, I used to think that was the goal in life.
Ben has helped me realize that things don’t always need to be “perfect”. He’s helped me realize that my obsession with striving to make things perfect all of the time was, and still often is, exactly the reason why I have real trouble getting anything done…and, often have trouble getting started in the first place.
I remember a while ago telling Jonah that he had to clean his room because it was a total disaster: clothes everywhere, comic books that he didn’t need anymore, drawings that dated back to whenever he was coordinated enough to hold a pencil, and itty bitty pieces from every magic kit and board game he’s ever owned all over the place.
I told him I wanted him to clean it so it was as spotless as if I were to clean it myself. Jonah’s entire soul basically melted before my eyes and it was as if I had sucked every ounce of happiness and hope out of his little body that he had.
Ben intervened and said, “Jonah, no. Just start with the comic books. Don’t worry about anything else. When you’re done with the comic books, come back downstairs.”
He immediately came back to life as if I had injected caffeine into his veins through an IV drip, and marched upstairs to get to work. As you can imagine, Ben had him chip away one area at a time, and within a couple of hours his room was right where I wanted it to be. And, as a huge bonus, he didn’t fight the process at all and was able to appreciate how much better his room was.
I can’t even tell you how many birthdays in our family were ruined because I couldn’t commit to a present or party/celebration for someone, and before I knew it their birthday had arrived and I was forced to resort to take-out dinner and a “Happy Birthday” chalkboard drawing because I didn’t even leave myself enough time to make a memorable card. On top of all of that, I spend the entire day being stressed and miserable because I’m so disappointed in myself for dropping the bomb that I can’t even just enjoy their birthday with them. It’s awful, and it makes me feel like a bad mother.
I could come up with a hundred other ways my perfectionist personality has made life for me, my family, and my friends far more difficult and unpleasant than it should be.
So, I have come to accept the idea that being mediocre is sometimes a much better route to go than being perfect.