I absolutely love this time of the year when garden fruits and vegetables are available. Weekly, my stop on the way home, I get tomatoes especially as they are such a delight to have whenever, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This year, the watermelons have been extremely good and I really don’t like watermelon. What’s up with that?
Whenever I visit my oldest sister who lives about four hours away, she is sixteen years older,. I usually travel with our other sister so we can all visit, now she is nine years older than me. It is always a great time of being together. Altogether, I have three sisters. Our other sister lives in North Carolina so we do not see her as often, and she is seven years older than me. I was the last, an oops, the baby of the family, and they all, with brothers included, one especially, made me know just that. Such warmth of love expressed from their jealousy of me.
As I am standing at my kitchen counter peeling my tomato to enjoy, each time, I always think of my oldest sister, with me standing at her kitchen counter those many years ago. When we visit, we eat, of course, and there is always a tomato to peel and slice for meals. We help her when we visit for those few days and it is fun. In that, I learned early on in our visits that she does not like the way I peel ‘her’ tomatoes. So this task now belongs to my other sister. Makes no difference to me but I know she would not say a word to her if not pleased. Whatever! I know, too, she would prefer to do the cooking and all with us not in her way in her kitchen. I understand that, I feel the same, and odds are we are most like that. Get out of my kitchen. This lady can cook and I tell her she could make dirt taste good. So, I back off and wait, as I don’t want to get in the way. I hate that feeling of being in the way, sadly a place I have been all my life.
I am usually on dish duty, which is fine but even with that I feel it does not measure up to her standards or she says she does not want me to get my nails messed up because I wear polish. I explain the gel type of nail polish and I will be fine. At times with such instances, when younger, feeling that I cannot do anything good enough, which in turn making me feel I am not good enough. Still. Thankfully, I did not ever feel unwanted. I know she loves me, always glad to see me, plus she is old enough to be my mother.
Now back to our sister that is peeling the tomato, she is not one to cook but thinks she can. Shhhh. I watch and wonder why she gets to peel and slice the tomatoes but I can’t. I do not even attempt to put forth an effort in that area while visiting. I remember for a long time, I quit trying to peel even my own tomatoes but just sliced, because I was told I did it wrong, I was a failure in this task.
One thing from that situation, I do know how to peel and slice and do quite well, as I have perfected my technique. Plus, I hate to eat the peeling on the tomatoes. Cutting the tomato yesterday, made me think back many years ago when I took offense of her taking this task away from me. Often questioning if I will ever please her (or anybody for that matter). Perfectionism had to be conquered, even with a tomato.
Our sister that is not with us due to distance, she is a good cook. Sadly, they really don’t know me enough, perhaps due to the age differences. I can cook, well I used to cook a lot but baking was always my favorite. Homemade yeast rolls, cookies, cakes, etc. I could throw a party like nobody’s business. They did not see me in this light. If I had a home party such as Home Interiors or whatever, I did not just serve finger sandwiches and cookies but a full meal. It was fun. When I worked at the funeral home, we would have a memorial service for those that lost ones during the year at the holidays. I loved this time and I made sure it was a plentiful, beautiful presentation of food. I have also made fruit and vegetable trays for people, which I enjoyed. My sisters don’t know that about me.
In all of that thinking while peeling ‘my’ tomato, I have tried to be a perfectionist in life and wanted perfection from others. Give your 100% if not more. Does it really matter though? We can all stand to learn and do better, sure, but if I peel my tomato one way and you peel it another way, it gets done in the end. Of course, learning to not waste is good and trust me, I could show my sister a trick, but I don’t dare even try.
Along with this somewhat, years ago when working in our church office, they hired a church administrator to oversee everything. This one day, I was typing a report or a letter and he came behind my desk and wanted me to use his way. I let him show me. He liked to use the symbol in between the paragraphs and show each line, etc. It made my report so busy looking that anxiety was happening within me. I realized, I have done this job long enough without the symbol to show me how many lines, etc., so I stopped. He may be in charge of the church grounds and departments but do not micromanage my reports or typing abilities. I felt competent in my work and so did the Pastor, then and in previous years, still. As an update, this administrator was not with the church very long. I guess he micromanaged the wrong one.
Years later, at my present office job, about ten years ago, I was training my assistant. I showed her how to do this one task. I did it one way and she said she always did it this way, but same result. Isn’t it funny how things stay in our mind and return? Cutting the tomato yesterday, it made me think back through the years when I took offense of my sister taking this task away from me, then the administrator correcting me feeling as though I was not doing it perfectly, which in turn made me feel not perfect. I am unsure why people feel that they can do this to me and I don’t dare do it or say anything to them. Just let it go, not worth my time and energy was often my thought pattern. Still, it hurts. As I was training, I remember my comment to her with, “Hey, if it works go for it with what you feel comfortable with doing as long as we get the end result.” Teach, be patient but do not make one feel incompetent or as a failure. I am sure I have failed in this area many times through the years, but I do try and be aware and to be patient.
I was thinking, of my oldest son when he was young and wanting to learn how to tie his shoes. We tried over and over again but one day he ran in the house all excited to say he could tie his shoes. Of course, he wanted to show me and I wanted to watch. He did just that, he tied his shoes. Nothing like I was showing him or how we tie our shoes but…he got the same result. ‘Well, there you go son, you did it.’ He was so proud and I was proud of him, even if different, same result. I still hear about this and we laugh. ‘Mom, why did you let me do it this way?’ ‘Son, because it worked for you.’
I never put two and two together until my former counselor brought the perfectionism up and it brought clarity to my life. So this is why I do this or did that in my life. Perfectionism. Perfection becomes a way to gain acceptance, love, and praise. This is what I wanted and needed from others.
“Bask in the glory of God’s love and for accepting your worthiness rather than trying to earn it by being perfect!”
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The root of perfectionism is believing your self-worth is based on your achievements. Many perfectionists grew up with unrealistic expectations from parents, caretakers and/or themselves. Perfectionismis encouraged in some families. Sometimes parents knowingly or unknowingly establish perfection as the standard.
Just as a side note, I really dislike this new WP format. I feel defeated and like a rotten tomato. Ugh! The perfectionism is being pushed to its limits within me. I really am trying. 🍅