Originally written for: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/don-t-sweat-the-small-stuff-1.1259237
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Perfectionists are eccentrics in their own special way. They obsess over carefully written lists, they worry about specks of dust behind the telly that somehow escaped their watchful eyes and they secretly hate their own cooking because it’s never good enough to meet their standards. They find a true, quiet, internal sort of joy in looking at things such as a perfect manicure, an impeccable outfit, an excellent photograph or a beautifully written piece of literature and revel in its utter flawlessness.
Possibly the person who suffers most is they themselves. Their way of dissecting and taking apart their own achievements and abilities in a most ruthless manner leaves them with little self-satisfaction. Self-esteem can be questionable because they never seem to forgive themselves, and expect too much from themselves. The same attitude of measuring people against pre-conceived parameters in their own heads spills into their social interactions and often hinders relationships. Preoccupation with details is another idiosyncrasy – they can be found doing things over and over again until every little thing is exactly in place. Life with such people can be somewhat tedious. I would know, because for most of my life, I have been – you guessed it – a perfectionist.
I’ve been the host hyperventilating before the party because “nothing looks right” and “everything tastes horrible” and more often than not, I will forget to enjoy myself. I’ve done and redone lengthy assignments because “something doesn’t seem right” and the way I treat the kitchen sink? Let’s not even go there. And you (and surely, my girls) don’t want to get me started on how I feel about dirty fingernails and disorganised bookshelves. Things on my side, however, miraculously appear to be taking a turn for the better.
I’m not sure why, but gladly, some of my OCD tendencies are relaxing. It could be because the better half has been on the prayer mat overtime beseeching the Lord to help me forget about the open toothpaste tube and dirty clothes that never seem to land in the hamper, or it could be the fact that life is never perfect and a sensible part of me has given up trying to make it so.
Why, after all, can’t one be happy, and truly content with how things are, today and right now? The world is a magical, exciting place and sometimes things that you can’t possibly explain or analyse happen. Life defies every law it has ever set and to go with the flow is the way to live it.
A friend of mine inspires me – her mind and body are designed in a way that stress glides off her as though it was the water falling off a beautiful green leaf when you water the plant. Only a few droplets of water remain on the leaf even when you water the plant thoroughly – that’s how little she worries even when times are tough. Her attitude to life is ‘yalla mashy halik’ as they say in Arabic. As for me, for most of my life I’ve been like the soil, absorbing the stress as though it were water. I truly admire people who are happy-go-lucky and just thinking about them makes me feel refreshed.
It is true that people who are conscious about every little detail will probably have neater homes and could be more organised in the way they run their lives. But surely, it makes far more sense to achieve that balance in life, when you are not all over the place and disorganised and yet you don’t spend precious time stacking your DVD’s alphabetically every week (yes, I’ve been guilty of such silliness in the past but not anymore, thankfully)!
I feel a giddy sense of relief – almost as though I were floating or hovering over a pleasant, peaceful garden in glorious weather, when I say the following to myself: I am no longer an obsessive, compulsive perfectionist who is never good enough. I am happy with me right now, today, at this very moment, (bad hair days, muffin tops and all) because there is way more to life than sweating the small stuff. I’m certainly nowhere near perfect, and never will be – but you know what? For once in my life, that is fine.