The Pursuit of Perfection… Failed?
Subjective content, meaning opinion based methods of evaluation, leave quite a sour taste in my mouth. In a math class, either the answer is wrong or right. Their is no “fuzzy logic” involved. Even though my English skills, I feel, lack the hard hitting efforts of many professional writers (and, lets face it, my grammar really is pathetic, but at least I know that), I try real hard to get my point across without any fluff.
For an assignment in my English class, I was commended for my writing style, presentation, and all around quality writing. We were tasked with creating a short essay about a “trait” that hits home with the writer. I picked perfectionism.
Several events lead up to the final product that I submitted, but at each step along the way, I was praised for my writing and that I should have been placed in a “higher” English class than what I was presently attending.
My “Thesis Statement” received a “check plus” along with a penciled “excellent” and was used as an example of how a thesis statement should be constructed in front of the whole class. The instructor did not say who wrote the other examples, but mine was first up to bat and she mentioned me by name:
Being a perfectionist has not only lead me to increased stress, but also has magnified the complexity of the simplest of tasks.
It took me a couple of hours to craft that one single sentence. No, seriously… and people wonder why it takes me forever to pen guides and post them. I read and reread my work a thousand times before it is deemed “good enough” to publicly post.
Even this quote penciled on my rough draft from my instructor all led me to believe I had created a “perfect” paper. One to go down in history. A masterpiece with no errors. (Haha!)
Charles – your writing style is clear and strong. Developed examples and events flow together seamlessly because of your transitions. No changes necessary – just submit a “clean” copy.
So what did I receive on the assignment? A 46 out of 50. 92%! What the?!? An “A”, but just barely. Bleh!
Anyway, here I offer before you an unedited/modified version of my final draft for you to read. It, of course, contains errors that my instructor did not catch the first few times around and that I missed after reading it a million times (noted by “sic”). That is okay, after all, it is not a perfect paper and it is worth noting that grammar and spelling was not a basis of evaluation. It may even strike you with some comic relief. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I received my grade results, I was pretty ticked off.
Only three paragraphs are presented here as the original document had and the assignment required. Personally, I would have broke up the body into several more and lengthened it considerably, but there was a “minimum and maximum” amount of words as a requirement. I barely made it… the maximum, that is.
September 25, 2006
Thoughts of a Perfectionist
Some people strive for a flawless, chiseled body. Others try compulsively to claw their way to the top of the corporate ladder in search of the perfect career. I focus my efforts in a completely different manner. Being a perfectionist has not only lead me to increased stress, but also has magnified the complexity of the simplest of tasks.
Several years ago, I had vast white walls in my home I desired to cover with framed artwork. The void immediately above the television, up to the ceiling, was particularly bothersome. I preceded to take multiple, redundant measurements to place the picture directly in the center with the precision of a math professor, ensuring the image was not only level, but the surrounding area was equal in all respects. This labor was not measured in minutes, but hours. Even after the frame was attached to the wall surface, I stepped back and examined my handy work (sic) from many different angles, as if I were using the eye of a police detective at a crime scene. Although no one would ever notice even the slight (sic) offset of the artwork upon the wall, I would know, and that drives me to perfection. That drive continues on, being visible throughout my written words. Even though the Internet is a dynamic, evolving entity, I feel the written word can last forever. Recently in the work place, I was tasked with updating a training manual. This manual assisted new employees with not only understanding what their job entailed, but a step-by-step guide defining exactly what actions to perform to get the required tasks completed. This manual was not originally written by me. As such, I could not deal with just editing it because, not only were their (sic) multiple errors throughout the actions required, but the lack of formatting consistency was also common. As my frustration increased, I realized that the only way for me to be content to place my name on the manual, was to completely rewrite it from scratch. In the same way, if it were possible for me to rewrite my computer software without spending a lifetime doing it, I would. Since the default configuration for most software sold has many more features than needed for my daily tasks, I turn to doing whatever I can to have my computer equipment perform efficiently and remove as many unused features as possible. I have spent thousands of hours tweaking software to ensure not only that the functions that I use perform well, but that other tasks still can be accomplished without any detrimental effects.
Each of these situations are only touching the surface of how my thought process propels me to ensure perfection, as I view and examine the minute details of every situation. My mind never is at rest, but always thinking of ways to make things better, ultimately causing increased stress levels.
Even though it took me a long time to vent about this (I have been wanting to do so for a long time now), my gripe still holds true and will for any foreseeable future: English is a bummer of a class.
February 21, 2008
February 21, 2008: Initial release
February 24, 2008: Added small blurb, stating that I know about errors that exist in the document… that my instructor also missed. 🙂