During my hiatus, I have been doing some reflecting. I’ve discovered that I’m getting a lot more gray hair. But then I stepped away from the mirror and did a little internal reflecting, and came to a much deeper conclusion. [Side note: Apparently it is now on trend to dye your hair gray, so my status as a fashion pioneer is once again confirmed.]
I have a vivid kindergarten memory that I believe truly defines my personality. But first, some backstory…
I have always loved art or any type of artistic expression. In elementary school, projects and coloring pages were my absolute favorite thing. I was the kid you all hated. You know, the kid who, when the teacher asked for a sketch of the solar system, brought in a hand-made 3-D model of the solar system complete with orbiting planets. I was that kid. But I honestly never did it to suck up. I did it because I truly loved creating things. In fact, if I went days or weeks without creating, I began to go a little stir crazy, like an addict going through withdrawals. It’s something that still continues to this day.
Now back to my kindergarten class. On the day in question, the class was abuzz with excitement. The letter fairy had visited our room overnight and brought us a new letter person, Mr. C. We did a lot of “c” activities that day. We met a clown. We tasted some cucumbers. We disassembled a carburetor. And then, at the end of the day, we were given a picture of a crocodile to color. I busted out my 96-pack of crayons (see my previous post) and got to work shading and texturing this croc’s skin. But as I began to draw carefully inside the lines with a green crayon, my hand slipped ever so slightly out of the lines. Completely devastated and in a shocking turn of events, I began to scribble all over the poor, smiling croc. I paid no mind to those black lines on the page. I was all over this thing, until 30 seconds later, when I declared my picture done and I shoved it in my backpack. It’s still hard for me to talk about.
On the bus ride home that day, I felt ashamed of my poor work. I knew that my mom would be checking my schoolwork like she did everyday, and that it would not be acceptable for her either. So I took the dreaded picture and hid it in a secret pocket in my backpack. In hindsight, I should have just thrown it away. After all, the teacher was not collecting it, but my six-year-old brain wasn’t that deceptive yet.
As predicted, Mom asked for my backpack that night. Being the excellent liar that I was, I told her, “Here ya go. You can look wherever you want except this pocket.” It was fool proof. But Mom was no fool, so of course she looked and found the saddest looking crocodile ever, which appeared to have been colored by an infant or man without arms. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I do remember that Mom said she was disappointed in me for not doing my best. I remember crying huge tears. Crocodile tears, ironically. And I vowed from that day forward to never do something again unless I was going to do my absolute best.
In a lot of ways, I have upheld that vow. I think in most areas of my life, I am a perfectionist. And perfectionists tend to be extremists. If I can’t do something perfectly, I won’t do it at all. My old car is a great example of this. It was either completely spotless or a bio-hazard. There was no in between. It was all or nothing. So most of the time my car was a deathtrap complete with food wrappers and old costumes and Amelia Earhart (mystery solved).
But here’s where my self-reflection comes into play. I’ve discovered that perfectionism isn’t always a great character trait because some areas of our lives need constant upkeep and maintenance. If things aren’t perfect, that’s okay, but we should fix the problems while they are small enough to be fixed before they become a garbled crocodile or a frightening car interior.
So in an effort to break out of my perfectionist mold, I am now going to make a typo: jd;aw9s
That was therapeutic. Thank you for listening and returning to the blog. I’ve missed you. Here’s to being completely imperfect, but doing a little bit each day to become a little bit better.