An imperfect perfectionism
My First Step CBT work pushed me down the road of perfectionism which I really struggled with. I had seen perfectionists, I taught a payroll course many years ago and as a tutor I would take calls when people asked me where they had lost the 6 marks that stopped them getting 100. I witnessed it amongst fellow students on a post grad diploma – the pass mark was 75 and there were no grades other than pass or fail and again they wanted to know where they lost the 2 marks that stopped them getting 100. So they were perfectionists, I was happy with 76, that got me the highest (only) grade. I was not a perfectionist.
But my perfectionism was a bit more insidious. As with thousands of others of my age we were told to do your best, but how do you measure that? At O level that worked, I did well, it went awry with A levels and at university I essentially got a certificate of attendance, but luckily no student debt in those days. Then after several jobs I began to find my feet, but then you push against this invisible boundary of what is your best. You do well, you get rewards, monetary and others, you press on. In my mind there was no 100, you pressed on, doing your best. It was my own version of the glass ceiling, but probably more opaque.
I began to understand my perfectionism when I started with digital photography. You can see the image on the back of the camera, you have histograms, software, you can literally control every pixel. So when I made a mistake it was my fault, I hadn’t achieved control over the process, the individual pixels. The whole process from image capture to print is controllable. Two years ago, I was preparing for an exhibition and I spotted a tiny mistake, nobody else would have noticed but I had, ok I was in a bad place but the desire to hit out at my stupidity and trash the work was huge – so yes I have a perfectionist streak.
But if I use film, or alternative processes, where chemicals and external parameters are involved then I can cut myself a bit of slack, I can accept that it will not always be as I wanted, nature is involved, chemistry, organic stuff. Yes I will beat myself up if I do something stupid eg processing a film in the wrong chemicals, but I have only done that once in the last 2 years, and I got over it in a week!
Did you notice the inherently negative language above, that perfectionist streak is still there but at least I can recognise it now.
Day 27 – 40 mins
Another treat, I have to pick up some mdf from Cark so I decide to go for a run on the way. I take the coast road from Grange and after Allithwaite take the road to Humphrey Head. I have been exploring Humphrey Head as part of a project on the outlying fells. Now even by the definition of outlying fells Humphrey Head is an outlier. It’s like he left his parents at Whitbarrow Scar for a day on the beach and never went back. I park just past the railway crossing and head towards the sea. As you approach the fell, it looks like a typical limestone scar with a steep drop off to the sea but appearances can be deceptive. I start up the fell, today is clear, cold and crisp. The bitter wind of yesterday has dropped and somebody has obviously begun to tow the arctic ice cap back to where it belongs. I get to the trig point, and now you see that there is a gentle slope down to the coast, I jog down, take my picture and turn back up the slope. Back at the road I turn left and take the road to the bottom of the scar. At the car park I turn right along a rough path, looking to see if I could follow the path to the campsite at Flookburgh, it looks possible but that will be for another day. I turn round and jog back to the car. That was good. When I get to Cark over coffee and cake I have an interesting discussion about perfection – a little bit of serendipity?
Morecambe Bay from Humphrey Head