And I never really thought of myself as a ‘procrastinator’ either. Sure I would put the occasional thing off until later—who doesn’t do that sometimes? But not as a general rule. Or so I thought.
But then last weekend I actually caught myself, on several occasions, deliberately putting off something I really wanted to do, by doing a whole host of other little jobs I didn’t want to do at all. Weird—huh? I mean—who does that? So I sat down and thought about it (like that wasn’t just another attempt to procrastinate even further) and could only come to the conclusion that I might be (shock horror) a procrastinating perfectionist.
According to the dictionary, a perfectionist is ‘a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection‘. Pffft. Now that really doesn’t sound anything like me at all. In fact, I would go as far to say that I am much more inclined to do things a little bit half-arsed than I am to be overly anal. (Anyone who saw my lawn after I had finished mowing it would have to agree. As long as it is ‘tidy’ I see no reason whatsoever to go around every single edge and border or pick up every errant leaf that has blown on to it. Likewise with the housework. I like to keep my house clean and tidy but with three dogs underfoot my home is never going to be pristine. As long as there aren’t tumbleweeds of dog hair floating down the hallways I can handle it.)
The same dictionary also states that a procrastinator ‘is a person who delays or puts things off—like work, chores, or other actions—that should be done in a timely manner.’ Well—okay—guilty—sometimes. But it is not usually very long before I suck it up and get on with what needs to be done. I prefer to get onerous chores done and dusted and out of the way.
And that’s when the penny dropped—‘onerous chores’. I have no issue with onerous chores (other than them being onerous, of course) because they don’t matter much to me. Half-arsed is good enough. The ‘perfectionist procrastinator’ in me only seems to kick in when something does matter to me.
So what brought on all this self-reflection? What was I really wanting to do but avoiding with all my might? Sketching. (I know, I know. What’s the big deal right? Sigh.)
Those of you who have read my earlier posts you will know that I have recently started drawing and sketching again. (Note the ‘again’ there. Methinks I have had these issues before.) But, truth be told, I have talked about sketching more than I have actually sketched. Oh, I’ve done some. I have. But not nearly as much as I wanted to—or said I wanted to. I enrolled in two online sketching courses and thoroughly enjoyed them. I even participated in the on-line forums and uploaded some of my homework drawings, and got really nice feedback from the other students and from the tutors. But I am still not sketching every day. Sometimes I am not even sketching once a week. And, the thing is—I really like sketching.
So what’s the problem? Why am I still so anxious about getting the sketchbook out and putting pen to paper? It seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? And I’ve probably known the answer the whole time—I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. I’m just afraid. Afraid my sketches will be crap. Afraid I’ll spoil my nice new pristine sketchbook. And I don’t want my sketches to be crap. And I definitely don’t want to spoil my nice new sketchbook. So I look for reasons to not start at all.
(Dogs don’t have these issues, you know. Dogs don’t not dig a hole for fear it is not going to be the right shape or angle. They don’t not play with that new toy in case they get teeth marks in it. Although, on the procrastination side, I could name at least two little dogs who have gone to great lengths to delay going outside to use the bathroom because it was raining . . . HA—see what I did there—classic diversionary statement. It would be so easy to just veer off and talk about dogs now . . . )
So what am I going to do about this ‘first world’ problem of mine?
Well the first thing I am going to do is acknowledge that if this is really the only issue I have in life to be fretting over at the moment, I should be roundly ashamed of myself (and in truth, I am somewhat mortified to even acknowledge it out loud.) Then I am going to go back over all my notes from my art classes and re-read the advice given on this very subject by nearly every one of the teachers (which I blithely skipped over because it ‘didn’t really apply to me’.) And, finally, I am going to try really hard to just ‘get over myself’ and stop being such a drama queen about the whole thing.
So, although I have already talked myself out of this twice already, and can already feel my resolve wavering again, I have decided to give myself a real push out of my comfort zone and have set myself a task of uploading a sketch to this blog once a week—just to see if I can do it. (And let me say that at this stage I have NO idea what kind of sketch you might get—but if one day a quick scribble of a balled up piece of paper appears on this blog, you may at least have some idea of the sort of week I’ve had . . . )
I am going to have to push to ‘Publish’ button real quick now, before I change my mind again. See you in a couple of days . . .
P.S. Out of curiosity I took The Perfectionism Test and am pleased (I think) to let you know that I ‘possess a healthy level of perfectionism’. (Mmmmm. I wonder if the author of this test was the same person who wrote the ‘Personality Test’ in one of my earlier posts?)