I’m losing my mind today, thanks to my “perfectionist” nature.
For those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m pretty uptight. As scatterbrained and cluttered as I am I’m a nasty mixture of OCD/Type A/tunnel vision. Often I feel quite masculine – if there’s something I want I find a way to get it or make it happen. These qualities have done a lot for me – I’m driven to succeed (with the right motivation) and I don’t take no for an answer. I’m a bit of a daredevil and a dedicated adventurer, which is much nicer than my parents’ label of “perfectionist” when I was little.
Let me give you a few examples.
- I keep my budget in a little graph-paper notebook in my purse, check it against the budgeting software on my phone, and meet with my financial advisor about once a quarter. At any given moment I know my investments’ totals, how much cash I have liquid, and how much of that I can spend for fun.
- When my hands work my shirts are arranged by color and sleeve length (or function, depending on what my work dress code is), along with my dresses and work pants, and all of the hangers face the same way.
- I stack my tupperware and my lids don’t go missing – they’re right there with the containers.
- Despite having a well-kept calendar in Outlook and a BlackBerry for work, I have a paper calendar for personal commitments on my desk wall and I keep a spiral planner with all of these things. It’s not just a back-up for my BlackBerry – it’s color-coded and I cross off meetings I make and circle meetings I missed.
I function in the normal world even if I can’t keep my life organized like this, but I am usually much more care-free and happier when I have my life organized and somewhat planned. I love being spontaneous and I’ve learned my lessons about being spontaneous after a few disorganized disasters in college. If I know where all the pieces in my life and my calendar fit I know where I have free time, free energy, and money to spare. This way I know how far I can extend myself and I feel comfortable being flexible.
The last point above is probably the most important illustration of my character if you’re going to understand my pet peeve.
When I have events, chores, or purchases planned it’s very important to me to stay on course. I try to be generous and pad my plans but it’s not always possible. I’m cautious about relying on other people for help or participation because not everyone views deadlines the same way. When I make a commitment I intend to honor that commitment , even if it’s only a commitment I’ve made to myself. Nobody’s perfect and I fully appreciate that delays and other things happen – I can’t keep my commitments all the time. Knowing myself and my limitations/needs as well as I do though, I try to make all of this clear to other people when we’re undertaking a project together.
(Can you tell I’ve run a business or two before?)
It shouldn’t be surprising that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people offer or suggest to do something and then have no intention of following through. It comes in either one of two forms and I hate them both.
Either people say “Yeah, maybe we’ll hang out on Wednesday after work” or “I wanted to go see that movie, we should go see it” when they have no intention of doing whatever they brought up. I know you want to sound friendly and like you’re thinking of me, but if you don’t want to do something don’t bring it up! If you have no intention of going, not only have I wasted my time – you’ve lied to me. I feel totally disrespected and lose faith in our friendship. It’s all relative to what’s being brought up, but it’s the same feeling at the core.
The other form is “I’ll come get you at 7 and we’ll go to the party” or “Wake me up at noon so we can go finish that chore”. This time, we don’t end up leaving until 9, or I get shooed away for a few more hours’ sleep. I know that everyone’s perception of time is different, but my time is my biggest asset and I don’t like to waste it. My stepdad is habitually late and his family always plans around it by telling him to be at a function 2 hours before they plan it to start. This is one way of coping, but I hate having to plan on other people being late. I see it as disrespect because if you know you won’t be ready until 9, why tell me 7? I should know that you’re late or take forever, but I expect you to manage that aspect of your life and show me enough respect to be ready when you say you will.
The biggest irritation with this subject is when people say “and if I’m not ready, kick my ass” but then get upset with me for doing what they asked. Please don’t ask me to do something or say you’ll be ready if you already know you’ll need more time or won’t be able to follow through. I’m more than happy to respect your schedule and your needs and I only ask that you respect mine in return.
I try to communicate my needs/limitations clearly because I know I’m uptight, and on top of it I’m sort of crippled and that can cause a bunch of complications. One of the biggest compliments you can pay me is to respect my time, communicate your needs, wants, and limitations clearly, and TELL ME if you don’t think you’ll be able to do what you say you’ll do.
I’m going to have a heart attack or an aneurysm by the time I’m 35, I swear.