Monday, March 21, 2011


I had some flooding in my basement last weekend (yes, the same weekend I had company -- thanks a LOT, Mother Nature!).  For a week it was a stinky, dirty, damp mess.  I couldn't do laundry, I couldn't walk on my treadmill (not so sad about that) :) and the wet smell crept up the stairs into the kitchen.  Yet I couldn't seem to get myself motivated to work on it.  WHY?

I have watched more than my fair share of the hoarding shows on TV.  One of the comments I hear a lot is "I'm a perfectionist" -- and this statement is often uttered (thanks to the producers, I'm sure) in front of a startling pile of junk, a moldy bathroom, or a sink filled with frightening piles of dishes.  At first I found it ironically funny:  what "perfectionist" can put up with filth like that?

It just clicked with me:  the perfectionist may have trouble addressing such big problems because they know they can (or may) never actually get them to be "perfect."  So to do nothing is the only way to avoid failure at perfection.  I'm not psychologist -- this is just my take on things.

So back to Mildew Central at my house.  How does perfectionism come into play here?  Well, I think it's because I DO (and not in a good way) have perfectionist tendencies.  I don't mean that I am perfect -- far, far from it.  I mean that I like things to be perfect.  Perfectly clean, perfectly organized, perfectly, crazy-making perfect.  I think that perfectionist tendency in me was just avoiding the scary basement mess because I KNEW I could never get it to look perfect.  Some of the rugs were stained or just plain ruined.  The cement floor, already a mess, was even worse.  Water had crept into places I probably didn't even know about and that bothered me, too.  So to just ignore the whole things was my way of avoiding failure -- my fear of not being able to make it right.

So how did I overcome this particular obstacle?  I called for help.  And luckily for me the best cleaner I know of is my mom :) and she was more than happy to spend an entire evening mopping, bagging wet stuff, laundering rugs, etc. etc.  Her positive and knowledgeable enthusiasm was what I needed to get going and address the problem.

Is my basement perfect?  No.  Do I feel better -- and am I trying to learn from this to help myself deal with future problems?  A big, resounding YES!  It's ok to NOT be perfect.  Someday I'll get that.


  1. I'm a terrible, epic perfectionist. You're right, it definitely does not mean that I'm perfect. I often catch myself putting things off because I feel I won't be able to accomplish them at my impossibly high standards. Definitely not a positive thing, in my opinion.

    And sorry about your basement, that is not fun at all. I used to live in a basement room, and it flooded twice in one year. Yuck!

  2. I can understand what you mean, although not guilty of perfectionism in the slightest myself. I am more of the 'sweep it under the carpet' type which is probably why I'm in the situation I'm in right now.
    Thank goodness for Mums heh! Sounds like she was there at the right time for you.

  3. Hi Emilie -- sounds like you feel my pain! It's so nice to hear that I'm not alone.

    How awful that your room was flooded -- you must have lost a lot of things? Yikes.....


  4. Hi Wendy! You are so funny :) I guess it sounds like we both need to find a happy medium between our "true" selves and the self we strive to be. It's so hard, though....!

    My mom has been so great about keeping me sane. She is the tidiest person I know, and helps me get rid of things whenever I ask for help. I appreciate that so much.