2: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable
Yesterday, my head was aching painfully and I needed a reprieve from the hustle, bustle and noise generated by three daughters. J graciously agreed I could go upstairs and retreat for a bit. As I headed up, I grabbed The Birth Order Book. I had finished a fiction book earlier that day and wasn't quite ready to dive into another. I've read snippets of The Birth Order Book before and knew it was one I could read a bit of without committing to the entire book. As I picked it up to read, I was thinking of reading a section about middle children. But God had other plans. He wanted to talk to me about me, not about B.
I opened the book to a chapter called "Just How Serious a Problem is Perfectionism?" Not surprisingly, this is a follow-up chapter to the one on First Borns. Flipping through it, I came across a quiz. While I've struggled with perfectionism, this is something I think I've improved on in recent years. The quiz results seemed to affirm this - I was a "mild perfectionist." OK, that sounds pretty good. Moving on...
But as I turned the pages, my eyes fell on a story about how procrastination is tied to perfectionism. In this story, a man recounts how hard he finds it to fully finish projects that he starts. The author tells him, "My big guess is that you grew up in a home where criticism reigned... you protected yourself from criticism by not finishing things."
Hmmm. That hit a bit too close to home. Months ago, I wrote a short story with A and she asked me to submit it to Highlights. I haven't. Weeks ago, I had an idea for a book about the Fun Jar, so that other parents are equipped with fun ideas to fill their summers. I was excited and inspired. I worked on it until I had a parial introduction, a few sample chapters and a full outline. Nothing since then. If you asked me about it, I'd tell you I've stopped working on it because I don't think publishers will want a fully finished manuscript. Or I'd tell you it's been hard to work on it since Kate stopped going to day care for the summer. Those would be half-truths. If those were my real concerns, I would be researching potential publishers. I would be finishing the intro at night. I would be working on it. And I decidedly am not working on it.
Instead, I have distracted myself with worthy projects like cleaning out my basement or buying and setting up a pool for my children or preparing K's old clothes for a consignment sale. Anything but writing.
I'm a little ashamed to admit this. It shows my fear - fear of rejection, of failure, of what will happen if I really try. It shows my pride. And worst of all, it shows disobedience. When I had the idea for the Fun Jar book, it felt inspired. It felt like the Spirit saying to me "You should do this." So why am I not doing it?