Way back in 2007 I wrote a post called Living Imperfectly (shared below) about how Barbara Sher exposed the deep flaw running through the old saying: "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right." - and how her words saved me.
I've been working on reorganizing the post categories here - which is how I came upon this old post today - and I have a feeling that it's important to share this message again.
What's YOUR take on doing everything right??
I was working on my granddaughter's Halloween costume on the eve of Halloween. Feeling guilty because - well, because it was Halloween EVE, for crying out in the night. Who waits until the night before Halloween to really get moving on a costume?
Who indeed? That would be ME! And I think I know why. It's all got to do with the saying: "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right!"
I have had an on-going, life-time battle with those words. They were family favorites - repeated often - in my childhood!
And those words applied to EVERYTHING!
The words applied to vacuuming and toothbrushing, sewing and homework and any/everything I was "asked" to do. I get the point, really I do - they were after me to give a rat's ass about things that I did NOT give a rat's ass about (like vacuuming and toothbrushing and sewing and homework).
Thanks to my take on those words (I took them in - totally believed them) I have had times (let me be honest, I have had decades) where how I brushed my teeth mattered big time.
Wait! Let me explain that - HOW wasn't the biggest thing - what mattered was that I did it perfectly every time. And it wasn't just "incidentals" like teeth brushing and vacuuming, sewing and homework - but ANYTHING and EVERYTHING (as noted above).
Sometimes I gave up. I was good at underachieving: "Karen has ability but she doesn't apply herself." Until high school - we moved, I got a new start - and I made up for lost time in going for perfection.
Which helped form the pleasant habit I had of needing to get an "A" on every paper written - and godhelpusall if that "A" wasn't the highest "A" in the class - because that surely mattered.
In college I got worse, in grad school - well, it's just lucky that I (and anyone around me) survived grad school!
So back to this costume. I've made many costumes - I've probably made more costumes than Edith Head. She is the costume lady, right? Not a porn queen? I've been gettting names mixed up lately - calling the musician Rhett Miller by the name Rhett Butler - to be sneered at by my music-loving eldest daughter when I ask to borrow the CD ("frankly Mother, I don't give a damn!" - she can be so snotty!)
My granddaughter wanted to be a mermaid for Halloween. The costume involved a skirt with some semblance of a tail at the bottom and some sea-shell like boobs to be attached to a long-sleeved t-shirt. Of course (do I even need to tell you this) - I work without patterns. What good is perfection if you had help - I've got to do it myself). But, with all the pressure - well, the pressure is the reason I didn't really get moving on the costume until Halloween eve.
The thing is - I've come a long way since high school and grad school (really a long way - I'm a damn crone now! All I need is whiskers, and let's not even get talking about that). I really, really have. I've fallen over myself so many times, I've learned that I never actually was perfect (wow - what a thought!). And I almost have this quest for perfection thing licked.
I've read - and reflected on - Barbara Sher's words - right there in black and white - saying that if something is worth doing it's ok to NOT do it "right". Spend your "getting it perfect" energy on something you have a passion for. She basically tells us that the old saying: "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right!" is bullshit! woo hoo!
While sewing, I kept reminding myself that I CAN do something half-assed and the world won't end. I can make a costume for a four-year old, and it doesn't have to be "the best". It doesn't have to be A++ quality. It's a costume for a FOUR-YEAR OLD! It helped that my granddaughter is one rough chica - so I was able to bring that into the equation: "hey, it won't last anyway..."
And I sewed. Making one mistake after another. I sewed the casing for the elastic on so that the seam was on the outside (for non-sewers - that translates to "all fucked up"). I sewed one of the shell-boobs together inside out (again - translation: "all fucked up") - and I kept sewing. And I finished the costume. It would probably get a D- in any sewing class - but it fit my granddaughter, it was sparkly - and shell-boobs are kind of a dead giveaway, so people "got" what she was dressed as.
There were times, as I sewed, that I almost cried. I wanted this thing to be phenomenal - I wanted the A++ - and it was so not going there. And there wasn't time to start over. But I got through it - I finished the costume - and I never did actually cry. One 4-year old went off Halloweening happily.
And Edith Head (if she's still alive and IF she's the designer, not the porn star) has nothing to worry about! Which is a good thing - REALLY - because although I love creating costumes and all forms of fabric play - that's not my big passion (connecting is) !
Thank you, Barbara Sher - I owe my sanity (what little I have) to you!
*bad photo courtesy of me (are you surprised?)