Nothing like submitting the first paper-for-a-grade I’ve written in years to demonstrate just how much of a perfectionist I can be. No doubt I did more than I needed to and pushed myself to a higher standard than what it really required.
I work well under pressure. There’s nothing like a time limit to drive me to my best works. But it doesn’t bring out the best in me. I get cranky and a tad crazy. And I forget things like eating and bathing and sleeping.
And, sure enough, I had a passing though about smoking a bowl to relax in the spare 15 minutes before my meeting. Luckily such thoughts are passing options rather than obsessive compulsions now. I’m free to dismiss the thought and instead spend a few minutes watering my potted plants on the porch.
There really isn’t much I get perfectionistic about. Most things I have a healthy sense of good enough and let it go. I get that nothing will ever be perfect and that there is always a point of diminishing returns with trying to make things perfect. My school grades aren’t on that list. Neither was my drafting work. Somethings I want to get right, like 100% perfect right. When designing pressure vessels this is a worthwhile goal. Those things can blow up and kill people.
But really, when I go to apply to grad school a solid A of 95% will be no different than a solid A of 99%. It’s just silly of me to care.
Now, I should admit that there is some strategy involved here. If I rock all my early assignments and then have some child related emergency I’ll be in much better shape if I end up missing something later. I’ll even confess to having calculated exactly how well I would need to do on a final to maintain an A, knowing that if I zeroed it I’d still pass the class.
Then there’s that part about having finally made up my mind that I want to go to grad school after this and I know that I will need to go through another admissions process to get there. And, truth be told, good grades can make for good scholarships and I have every intention of applying. It’s a bit of a myth that you can’t get paid to go to school. You can but you need to excel at something. Being as nonathletic as it is possible to be but an arch-nerd this means, and meant, academic achievement for me.
I like the messy, non-perfect nature of kids and cats and gardens and relationships. Life is messy and full of mistakes.
I also like having somewhere with clear expectations and set rules and accomplish-able goals. I like knowing exactly what the rules are and what standards apply to me. Life and relationships aren’t like that. I hate situations with protocols I don’t know about until after I’ve broken them. Those are heart poison to me. I thrive on clearly communicated requests. I like having a syllabus and course schedule.
A good class is one with a good balance of structure and plenty of freedom to plan my own time and pick my own take on a topic. I have good time management skills and can usually write the paper the prof actually wants to read. It’s good for me to get a few strokes and have the options to accomplish something and be valued for my abilities.
I don’t get much of that in my real-world life. And I never really have. It feels good to start getting a steady stream of feedback again. I like to be told where I stand and not to be always guessing. Can you tell I’ve spent a lot of time in addict relationships with people who are, for all practical purposes, incapable of communicating needs and feelings or meeting needs and respecting feelings? Yeah…um…anyways. School has often been a safe place for me in a chaotic world.
I just need to pay attention to how well I am taking care of myself and remembering the rest of life. It’s exhausting to live with too much pressure for long. Easy does it. I probably didn’t really need to edit my paper for a fourth time today. And I probably didn’t need to worry quite so much about making sure my formatting came out just so.
It feels good to have it submitted and done. I don’t much care for the suspense of waiting to get it graded but there is this pleasant sense of relief to have declared it done and uploaded it to the electronic drop-box. Early. I got it in well before deadline. It was tempting to keep poking at it for any last changes or miniscule mistakes. But I didn’t. I let it go at good enough and stopped working and had a snack and came over here to write and not worry if it isn’t quite right.