Monday, March 10, 2014

Slice of Life: Perfectionism and Failure 3/10

I am participating again this year in the Slice of Life challenge in which we write a slice every day in March.  If you are interested in joining in, visit the Two Writing Teachers blog for more information.

As a perfectionist, I have to make a conscious decision to keep doing something once I have made a mistake.  My whole being wants to say, "it will never be good enough now so why bother?"  I have to force myself to get through this hurdle and keep going.  As I have gotten older, I have developed different ways to get myself to lighten up.  However, it takes a lot of self-discipline to keep myself from negative self-talk.  I tend to berate myself the way I would never do to anyone else.

It can be a very small thing.  For example, last night I forgot to get cash out when paying for groceries.  It took me a good five minutes to stop beating myself up over that simple mistake. So when it comes to bigger things, there is always a struggle to keep myself on an even keel.  "Nobody is perfect" becomes my mantra and I try to live with that.  Failure is a part of life, and everyone needs to be able to deal with it.  In fact, failing at something is sometimes the way to learn.  Making mistakes is how we learn.  I teach that to my students all the time.  I want them to be able to make mistakes and cope with it and in fact embrace the mistake and learn from it.  Therefore, I need to be able to do the same.

Last week I failed.  I was not able to keep up with the daily writing of blog posts.  I wanted to do it, but I was exhausted and feeling the pressure of report card deadlines looming.  I didn't get it done.  I missed 4 days of blogging.  I no longer will be perfect at completing this challenge.  This eats at me, and I almost didn't get back into it.  When I had missed one day, I was disappointed but ready to continue.  Then I missed 2 days, then 3 days, then 4.  It was a big challenge to not throw my hands in the air and say "why bother?"

Since I am having some health issues, I may miss more days.  I will try not to, but I cannot promise I will get here every day to blog.  This does not mean that I cannot still get a learning experience from this blogging challenge.  It doesn't mean that I can't still make writing a priority most days.  I will do what I can.  My perfectionist brain will have to deal with it.

Reflecting on my own perfectionism really makes me think about my students.  I wonder how many of them share this type of challenge.  I wonder how many of them waste time with the negative self-talk and give up on things when they don't think they will be able to be perfect.  I wonder how many of them hear me when I say that mistakes help us learn, but don't really believe it.  I wonder what I can do to help these perfectionist students to keep going even when they know they won't be perfect.  I can start by leading by example.

Here is my day 10 post.  I won't win a prize, I won't be perfect, but I will stick it out and learn from it.

1 comment:

  1. It is hard to keep going after a mistake. I always admire figure skaters and gymnasts when I watch them in competitions on TV, and I watch them get up and continue even after falling down. You have written a good reflection about perfectionism...

    Wishing you strength in facing the health issues, and hope all will be OK...