The perfectionist and the slacker.

At work, we often discuss how to help the families we work with to build resilience. They face a wide range of struggles as they navigate life in a new country, complete with new systems and governments and cultural norms.

I think the more I work to build resilience in others, the more I am painfully aware of my own lack of resilience.

I am easily sidetracked. Easily deterred. Easily defeated.

A few years ago, I graduated from an excellent university. I moved out to Chicago, volunteered a year, and then was hired full-time. Though I had taken all the exams and done all the required work, I never officially obtained my teaching certificate. Mostly because it involved a bit of paperwork. My father had even paid for it. But it required trying to remember passwords to old accounts and tracking down my transcript and sending in a cover letter. To any normal adult, this should not seem daunting. To me, it seemed insurmountable. Particularly because I was not planning to use my certificate and thus had little interest in jumping through the hoops.

I graduated six years ago this month. And just today I finally mailed in my transcript in the last and final step of obtaining my teaching certificate. I can see my father's smile from half-a-country away.

Truth is, I give up at the first sign of difficulty. Sometimes it's the perfectionist in me. The part of me that says something worth doing is worth doing well. And if I think for just a moment that I might not do it well, I just give up. Sometimes nothing is better than something if that something is going to be painfully awful.

But most often, and in this case, it's the slacker in me. (Which, fyi, Webster defines as "an especially educated young person who is antimaterialistic, purposeless, apathetic, and usually works in a dead-end job." Harsh, Webster, harsh.) The slacker that would prefer a Scrubs marathon over spending time navigating the Mass DOE website or Chicago's no-help-ever system of starting a small business. Or researching for a grant. Or keeping the house clean.

While I love my job and my life outside of my job, many days, life is a struggle. To keep myself motivated. To make my checklists. To think through my goals. To push myself forward. And my victories come when I am able to stay on task or get myself one step closer to where I want to be.

So often when I write, I start with a question or a problem and as I write the answer I thought I was searching for suddenly becomes clear. Like it was there the whole time, waiting to be freed, my words unlocking each little chain.

Not this time.

Instead I'm left with questions. Will it always be this way? A struggle to keep myself motivated? A fight to move forward? And if I continue, winning some and inevitably losing more, is it enough to simply say that I made progress, no matter how small?

Someone must have the answers.

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  1. No answers, but commiseration! I'm struggling through the same thing. I can't seem to find my motivation anywhere.

  2. Um, there's a pile of dishes on my counter that have been sitting there since Sunday. Every night after work I tell myself that I am going to wash them before my husband comes home from his night class. And then... I sit down on the couch and promptly forget about/ignore the dishes.

    This is just one example of how I too am a slacker.

  3. Thanks, ladies. It's good to know I'm not alone! I've made a to-do list for the weekend and a list of weekly non-negotiables and that seems to have helped some for the time being. I'll keep you posted if I come up with any mind-blowing techniques.

  4. I'm the exact same way! If I can't do it well, it's not worth doing. That's gotten me into trouble at school before (whether from a teacher, or in my head). I don't have it taken care of at all, but on those days when it's not so bad, I say to myself, " I'll [do this] now, and then after I'm done, I'll watch 2 episodes of Scrubs instead of 1." (And yes, I watch Scrubs a lot too. Isn't it fun to watch Dr. Cox pretend he doesn't have feelings? ;])

    1. I love love Scrubs. After four years with my husband, I finally got him into it! So yes, Scrubs definitely hinders my ability to do anything else too!


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