The hard and angry coal face
Grates at skin that wishes for a cleanliness
That’s unachievable to you and me.
But still I’ll rub myself along that wall,
Skinning knees and elbows too.
I wish for skin so snowy white
But dirt is all I can believe.
When I was doing my Open University degree, my mum came home once to find me sitting at the computer and sobbing. The reason for my break down was that I couldn’t get one particular sentence in a 5,000 word essay to sound right.
I’m not a neat freak and I think I can let go of many things nowadays, but letting go of academic work is still really hard. And I’m realising that this week as I’m starting my first assignment for my teaching qualification.
Today, I started the introduction. It is only 200 words long and it has taken me hours because I needed it just perfect. I wish I could just let go of this because I can feel all of that scratchiness in my brain that I felt in my 20’s when drinking became the only answer.
Obviously, I’m not going to drink over this, but it’s giving me a bit of a wake up call. However, I am still on this upward learning curve and I need to remember that all I need to do is pass. I don’t NEED to be top of the class. I would like to be top, but it won’t be the end of life as I know it if I’m not.
So my last thoughts as I put away my laptop and go to sleep will be positive and kind towards myself. I won’t ruin my half term worrying over this. I’ll write the report and send it in with no tears. I’m letting go. It’s scary but it’s also necessary.
4 thoughts on “the pain of perfectionism”
I have (another) writing friend who hates to write because everything thing about it must be perfect. I write for engagement, which has its own, fraught challenges, though I don’t think perfectionism has to be one of them. I hadn’t thought of this before; but in my experience, most of those I have encountered who must write want to do it well. Whether an e-mail or an impact study, there is a desire for success and style. My guess is your academic writing’s good, though I don’t have much to go on beyond your narrative work, which I think is grand. So I think being willing to be easier on yourself might be prudent advice, especially from you to you.
That’s really kind of you to say! I do agree that sometimes letting go and just knowing that it’ll do the trick is enough. People are never picking your work apart quite as much as you do yourself. Sad, but true.
Nobody is perfect in this world. It’s better to live with some imperfections that may guide us to do better in life.
Well said, I think that striving for perfection can end up holding us back.