Anybody who knows me will agree that I’m 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 to say “thank you” to the person who held open the door. Once, I actually waved a guy down who made a turn in front of me to tell him that his turn signal was 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.

Reflecting back upon my divorce mediation practice during the pandemic, I observed that my clients were ending their relationships because of the strain of being locked down.  And post-lockdown, I think people have become more irritable.  Including me.  So, I’ve been retraining my brain to overlook the errors and shortcomings that used to drive me crazy. Instead, I’ve flipped a switch 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?

Hello, my name is Nancy, and I am no longer a perfectionist.

This is not an easy path for me. Ridding myself of the desire to correct other people seems to be taking a lot of time and effort. My first step was 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 from telling 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 am no longer a perfectionist.

Recently, I attempted a new cookie recipe.  It required chilling the dough, then rolling it out into a 12″ circle.  For the life of me, I couldn’t get the diameter to be bigger than 9″, which was a serious shortfall.  I’m not proud to admit that I actually threw the dough in the trash instead of trying to make it work.  Yes, I had a relapse.  I’m human, after all.

If you’re a recovering perfectionist, treat yourself gently. 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.