Anybody who knows me will attest to the fact that I am a stickler for proper spelling, grammar, and manners. I’ve been known to reply to random posts on Facebook to point out the difference between “your” and “you’re.” I’ve reminded strangers that they should say “thank you” to the person who held open the door. One time, I’m embarrassed to admit, I waved a guy down who made a turn in front of me to tell him that I thought his turn signal must be broken. And although I exercise more caution now than I used to, I know I’m not alone in my pursuit to correct these wrongdoers. I like to think I’m being helpful.
Which brings me to the topic at hand. Because I’m a peacemaker by profession, because the pandemic has forced me to adjust my priorities, and because more and more people are short-tempered these days, I’ve decided to retrain my brain to overlook the errors and shortcomings that would otherwise drive me crazy. I flipped a switch inside my brain and am now choosing to look at their intentions. Did the guy intend to piss me off by deliberately not using his turn signal? Did the author of that Facebook post use a “speak to text” application, in which case Siri, or Alexa, or whomever didn’t get the correct usage of the word from the context?
In other words, I’m choosing peace over perfection.
This is not an easy path for me. I mean, the peace part is easy. It’s who I am and what I do. Yet choosing it over perfection is a continuing struggle. As with any other habit, ridding myself of the desire to correct other people seems to be taking a lot of time and effort. My first step is to stop rationalizing that I’m being helpful. It’s one thing if somebody asks me to proofread their resume, and it’s another to send a direct message to the local news channel because someone on their staff doesn’t understand possessive plurals. In fact, I recently stopped myself mid-comment to tell a total stranger that I took issue with the word “I’s” (as in “my husband and I’s favorite dessert . . .”). I mean, really? My fingers could barely type that fake contraction, I was that irritated. Of course I ended up deleting my comment before I posted it. But it really pissed me off for a full minute. And then I remembered that I have chosen peace over perfection.
This is a revelation for me, and I think it might be a revelation for some others as well. Unless you’ve bowled a 300, shot a hole-in-one, or struck out 27 batters, perfection is overrated. Expecting it of ourselves is a recipe for disappointment. So is expecting it of others. when we really haven’t the authority to do so.
To those of you who share my (hopefully, prior) affliction: are you willing to choose peace over perfection?