Yes that’s an asterisk. You would typically see these on application forms incumbent with some degree of commitment anywhere within the spectrum of signing up for a supermarket rewards card to re-mortagaging your house. All with a variety of emotional cattle prods within the footnote section, or as I like to call it, the disappointment section. As uses of asterisks go personally I think there should be one beside anything on a menu with jalapeno in it but that’s not today’s message. Ultimately with these forms and the customary disappointment section it emerges that the initial attractive thing is not as it seems. Well, that’s the irony here. At least I thing that’s the definition of irony, it certainly isn’t having 10000 spoons when all you need is a knife. That’s just shitty. Alanis, I digress. So nine times out of ten you will go ahead and sign your name to that form and accept the footnotes and the diminished attractiveness because why? That’s right, it’s not perfect but it’s good enough.
The point is * = but not ALWAYS! Hence why it is prefaced by “almost”.
As a self-confessed perfectionist (it took me forever to get the confession right) I have worked half-arsedly for many years in an attempt to rid myself of this paralysing affliction. Don’t get me wrong, decreased effort is not what it’s about. It’s about getting past the obsession to be perfect to find something that is great, accept it and move on. It still makes you want to pop a square metre of bubble wrap* to soothe the psycho within but it means you’ve gotten something done that you should be proud of. My earliest memory of the detrimental effect of the pursuit of perfection was when I was about 11 or 12 years old and I entered an art competition in which you had a short period of time to complete anything from a sketch to a water-colour etc. I was pretty good with pencils as a kid and had a particular affinity for nature. I was sketching an Osprey catching a fish out of a lake but I could’t get the shape of the wings right so I kept drawing and erasing, drawing and erasing for about 40mins, I was still frantically trying to get it perfect up until the last second and bang! Timer goes off and I’m still wingless. I was 80% there but not finished. The quality of what I had done was far superior to anything else handed in but an Osprey with no wings is less than impressive. I was devastated. Had I given myself the concession that it was good enough I would have won. I would still have been twitching over the lack of a consistent curve on the wings and so there’s that post production guilt that also needs to be tackled in the process but it would have been finished.
* satisfaction may vary according to preferred bubble size which cannot be guaranteed at the time of the psychosis. Relief for a limited time only, not available with any other offers.
Perfection has its place but it’s not in everyday life. Perfection is for NASA and forensic science, it’s for life or death scenarios. Perfection is also relative, how other people perceive your version of perfection can be soul destroying. Perfection is often a defence against the inability to take criticism and the fear of failure. However getting something done is universally getting something done as long as the end result is effective. It’s an important lesson to teach. There will always be arguments for and against in a myriad of scenarios. The pursuit of perfection is for a majority a fruitless exercise, try instead for the pursuit of excellence. Be confident in your selection of when to settle for good enough whether in the giving or receiving. Make peace with the perfectionist within, she will always be there. You can let her out every so often but choose wisely.
If you want to delve further into the science behind this read or listen to audiobook; The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault. ~John Henry Newman