I am the oldest child in my family, and I have all the classic traits: high-strung personality, very hard on myself, and an extreme perfectionist.
I never really thought of my perfectionism as a bad thing. I always thought it was the reason I've been successful in school, and hopefully in my future career.
However, God is showing me that it has become an obsession and a source of extremely prideful and selfish behavior.
The problem with being a perfectionist is that I'm obviously very far from perfect. But for some reason, I have this need to appear like I have it all together. This is where the pride and selfishness come in. I am too focused on myself and making sure everything appears to be perfect about my life, while on the inside, I'm one stressful situation away from having a mental breakdown.
I keep telling myself that I don't care if I don't get all As in school. But the truth is, I do care. I can't give half of my best on a project, paper, or at my externship. Even though if I did, it would probably mean more time spent with Scarlett and Luke and less stress for me. What would happen if I got a B? Would the world stop turning? Because somehow in my mind, that's what would happen. It's ridiculous, and I'm glad I'm realizing what a huge problem this has become.
Another problem area is my home. You guys, I have to be honest. I am just not good at keeping it clean. Luke always rolls his eyes and tells me our house is just fine, and it's clean enough. But I want it to be perfect. Our house is such a source of frustration for me because I want it to be clean, and that is just not a priority for Luke (or most men, I guess). I get mad and snap at him when I start to feel like the house is getting out of control (which it is most of the time). I don't know why I can't just let it go, realize it's not going to be perfectly clean until our kids are graduated and out of the house (or never), and relax a bit.
The thing that scares me is that I'm afraid of projecting my perfectionism onto Scarlett. She's already an oldest child (assuming we have more children) with 2 oldest children as parents. I am constantly picking at her and making sure she looks and acts "perfect" all the time. This week I realized that this is really a habit I need to break so she doesn't end up just like me!
I guess it all comes down to motives. If I was trying to make my house perfect for my family, that would be okay. But I try to make it look perfect for appearances; so that people think I have it all together when they come visit, or (heaven forbid!) stop over unexpectedly. In my case, perfectionism = pride!
I can't believe it took me almost 30 years to realize how silly it is to be so wrapped up in appearances, and things that just don't matter! I would be under so much less stress if I just said, "I don't care what people think!" I would have more time to spend doing things for others if I wasn't so wrapped up in making my life look as "put together" as possible.
If God wanted us to be perfect, He would have created us that way. But he wants us to rely on Him for perfection. It's not my job to be perfect. The more I realize that, the more I can let go and be used for His purposes instead of my own.
I'm glad I finally realized this, but the hard part is going to be changing! I'll just have to take it one day at a time.