Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Revelation #2: I'm A Perfectionist


I'm not proud of this character flaw. It's made me do things. Things I'd rather not admit. But I will, because it's you. And I promised I'd give you some revelations.

This defect routinely shows up when I'm learning something new. Like learning to sky-write or paint a wall, or learning this new job I just started. (Just kidding about the sky writing, but that does sound like fun.)

I like to do it right. NOT wrong. Where does this phobia come from? My sordid past as a child neurotic.

Yes, I admit it. As a kid, cold sweats, mysterious ailments and stomach aches were routine. I would wheedle out of all kinds of pressure situations if I thought I would somehow fail. School, tests, and ohmigod, ballet recitals.

The crazy thing was, I loved dancing. At eleven, I went so far as to audition for a big Syracuse University production of Carousel. And, crazily, I got the part! (This picture is not us. But a representation of us. Only probably better.)

I don't know what I was thinking. I had terrible stage fright. But I desperately wanted to be an actress someday. I was so scared that when it came time for the real performance I curled up in a ball and told my father I couldn't do it. I would absolutely barf!

His answer? He drove me to the theater, CARRIED me in the back stage door, dumped me on the floor and turned and walked out. (Seriously, right now, I can smell that dusty, black-painted hardwood pressing against my nose.)

Now this may sound a little...harsh for today's politically correct standards. For years, I even thought so. But that opening night, I had no choice but to go on. And I made it through. I even had fun. My dad was in the audience, clapping for me.

Turns out, he did me a big favor. See, I'm still a perfectionist and my own harshest critic. But after that day, I quit stopping myself from doing those things that scared me silly. I did them anyway. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I make it through. Sometimes, I surprise myself. But I'll give almost anything a shot.

So...Thanks, Dad, wherever you are. Just so you know? I needed that.

7 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

What an important lesson your Dad gifted to you! But you're the one who followed through on it, so Bravo to you! (Or technically, Brava to you!)

Snap said...

YOU did it with a little help! I always get nervous before a presentation and I KNOW I KNOW the stuff backwards and forwards and certainly better than anyone I'm talking, too, but the butterflies are always there. Ah, well.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Sometimes we just need our parents to force us through our fears. Seems to me you have conquered your fears and accomplished a whole lot in your lifetime.

So glad you are still able to make time in your busy schedule to post now and then!!!

Sarah said...

Really??? I thought Anne was the pukey one..lol!! Yes he did that sort of thing with me a few times too..same result. Buck up and get over it! Funny how we see it now!
I am afraid I have the same problem sis!! I want it to be right..everytime. But of late I have learned to let some things go..sometimes..if I try really hard..kinda. Hang in there!
Love you, Sarah

Renee said...

I love your Dad. Now the perfectionist part, let him go, he is over-rated.

Love Renee xoxo

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

What a great story...as if I would expect nothing less coming to your blog! I think in some way we are all perfectionists...wanting to do things right. Unfortunately, some people are afraid to try for fear of failing just like you and the dancing. Unless we make mistakes, we'll never learn to be better. At least that's what I keep telling myself when I screw stuff up...I'm just in the process of getting things better!!

A Palmer said...

I guess we're all cut from the same mold. Sigh... I, too - the oldest example-setting sister needed to do everything perfectly. I think it's good to expect the best, but I think it would have also been good for us to have learned how to celebrate failure. Puking is definitely not a good reaction and I would do the same thing if I had to get up in front of a group and talk years ago. It was only when I forced myself to learn how to do it when I heard myself say "Yes, I'll be the Loaned Executive for United Way this year," that I had to figure out how to get over it. In many, many talks to employee groups, nobody booed me, hurt me or even made me feel bad after any presentation. Who would have known? You can do it. Go for it!!!