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.