Perfectionism: raises you up or holds you back?

I always get this super-weird-uneasy feeling when I'm about to hand over something creative into the care of someone else to finish... I can count on 1 finger how many people I would trust to do a project the way I would do it, and that finger is pointed right back at me. This isn’t a post about why I am so great, but more of a realization that I need to let go of some things…

It all started in 2003 when I needed to get my architecture student portfolios bound in college. I was headed to three big interviews and I had designed it all on the computer, printed the five copies at 10 minutes per page, both sides, and I left them in the care of some girl that was eating freaking Cheetos at the counter in Staples. She seriously had orange fingers and was cleaning them off when I handed her my immaculate printed and cut pages that were to be bound. That should've been my first clue. 

She bound them on the side of the page that was meant to be turned, the OPPOSITE side that I wanted the binding on. She messed up two of them before she realized her mistake. Luckily, there were still three left that she could bind on the correct side but there was still nothing I could do about the other two. This left me no spare copies; one per interview is all I had. That was 2003, ten years ago almost to the day and I still get a little heated when I think about it. 

My most recent service industry mishap happened yesterday. I gave a custom embroidery place two oven mitts to embroider as part of my friend‘s wedding gift. They did a really nice job, the letters looked perfect, and they used the right thread color, but the initials were upside down on one of the mitts. I even taped a piece of paper with the direction of the initials to it, but I have no proof of that. I just have to accept it the way it is, and it is wrong.

This is why my husband gets so frustrated with me, I am a perfectionist and I demand perfection so when I don't get it then it is a major letdown. It is one of the biggest reasons that I insisted on making pretty much everything in my wedding from invitations to my garter. To this day I still cannot get something spiral-bound at a print shop without my stomach being in knots assuming that they are going to do it wrong. Why is it that it is more of a surprise when someone does their job correctly then when they screw it up? 

I just have to assume that this is the sad state of the world and the type and quality of people that are living in it. I am a measure three times cut once type of girl, I drive 45 minutes to get my haircut because I can’t switch, I hate change, and my dad raised me this way. The thing about this part of our personalities is that people cannot stand to work with us sometimes.

My dad almost drove my then boyfriend, now husband, insane when they were installing a bathtub in my condo. My dad measured, looked, thought about it again, put it in, took it out, measured it again, and then cut it, and the whole time Steven was crawling the walls. He's a jump in with both feet and look later kind of guy. This is an important quality for a person to have in my life because at times I can be very slow at making decisions, especially the ones that count, but the worst thing that one can do is rush me.

I do find that this mostly has to do with design items that are related directly to me as I don’t really have this problem with clients. If I am actually the one making the item and the decisions involving it, I know that if it does not come out perfectly I will not be able to give it to that person without redoing the entire thing until it is absolutely spot on. The thing about this condition is that the flaw is usually so minor that no one else will notice, except me. Even if I don't have to look at it every day I will still know that it is there. 

The bright side to this whole condition is that my friends like coming to me to help them design stuff for their house and/or event. I have designed countless invitations, blankets, programs, logos, rooms, etc. for people because I feel like they trust my work, and that means something to me. I feel really good in knowing that they feel comfortable asking me for my help, and I love to give it.

Now, I will have to give these potholders to my friend, with one of the initials stitched upside down from the other, and live with it because there is nothing else I can do about it. I hate when the fate of my project is in the hands of someone else, and this is something I'm just going to have to learn to get over as we embark on my biggest project of all time, building our own house. There are SURE to be some meltdowns over this one…

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From Charleston, South Carolina to your computer. I hope you enjoy. :)