Anyone who knows me could probably tell you that I’m a perfectionist. I’m also rather competitive. And like a lot of people who are competitive perfectionists, I’m ridiculously hard on myself. If I do something, I expect it to be – if not the absolute best – then really, really good. And if that doesn’t happen, I beat myself up mentally. For days. For weeks. Months, even, depending on what it was that didn’t turn out just right. I once went into a downward spiral for days because of a failed attempt to make caramel. I shit you not.

I know this is crazy. I know it’s stupid to hold myself to a different standard than I do for everyone else. But please don’t think I do because I think I’m better than everyone else. It’s actually the opposite; I’m trying to prove to myself that I’m as good as everyone else.

In the two years since my son was born, I’ve had to let a few things go. I’ve had to come to terms with my limitations, and the limitations of my time. And with another baby just about here, I know I’m going to have to become used to a different standard again. In an attempt to prepare myself mentally, I’ve been thinking for the last week or so about the things that I’m good at, the things that I’m not so good at, and whether or not I care. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Things I am good at, and am quite proud of:

  • Knitting. I am badass at this.
  • Starting things. I am also badass at this. I love to start things.
  • Cooking. Not the absolute best, but I’m pretty durn good at it, after much effort.
  • Being a parent. Who knew?
  • Getting mad. OK. Not proud of this one. But I’m certainly good at it.

Things I am actively working on being better at:

  • Finishing things. Yeah. Not so good at this yet, but I have seen an improvement.
  • Baking. I have mastered the chocolate chip cookie. Everything else is hit or miss. Delicious, delicious miss.
  • Keeping house. For someone who was a complete and utter slob up through college, I’m doing much better. Minimization of junk really helps.
  • Gardening. Here, I have so much ambition, but so little follow through. Someday.
  • Letting anger go, especially if it’s irrational. It’s usually irrational. I think I’m improving here, though my husband may beg to differ sometimes.
  • Not procrastinating. One thing that having less time has taught me is to use time wisely. Just do the thing already.

Things I am not good at, and just don’t care:

  • Fashion/hair/makeup. I tried to care for a while. I just really don’t.
  • Being a music buff. I used to care about music. Now I prefer silence. Or an audiobook.
  • Keeping my car clean. I only need to wash it once a year, right? But seriously, if you are offended by my dirty car, you need to go away.
  • Doing all the things. I’ve gotten pretty good at just doing those things that I feel really matter, or that I really enjoy. And I am getting better at not feeling guilty about it.
  • Lawn care. The opposite of care. I can be downright contemptuous of a well-manicured lawn.
  • Making friends. I have enough really good ones, and it’s quality over quantity, right? If only those really good ones would stop moving so far away…

So, that’s it. I could probably keep going indefinitely, but these are the ones that keep coming to mind. In the future, instead of beating myself up when something doesn’t go as I imagined it should, I will try to ask myself if I really care. If the answer is yes, and I’m actively working on improving at that thing, then that will have to be good enough. If the answer is no, well, then I just need to let it go, don’t I?


About Courtney Walters

Mama. Information librarian. Food lover. Knitter. Gardener (ish).
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