I'm not perfect, but that doesn't make me a failure. (Does it?)

It has been a whopping five days since my last post, and I can feel my skin starting to crawl from the inactivity.  Just kidding.  My skin is starting to crawl because I haven't had a shower in a week.  Just kidding.  I'm just having a more scatter-brained than normal experience here lately and I can't seem to find the energy, motivation, or wherewithal to do anything on top of that which is absolutely necessary.  Just kidding?  (Unfortunately no.  That last part is true.)

[Because I'm random, if you want some seriously funny "Just kiddings" check out Kristen Wiig as Judy Grimes on SNL.  Here's a link, but there's no telling how long the video will be active.]

So what was I talking about again?  See.  I'm a mess these days (or maybe I always have been and I'm just now noticing it). 

I've talked about successfully forcing myself to "let go" of some things.  You may remember these pictures of the laundry room.  (Warning:  The following may be completely overwhelming to view.)

Of course, it's hard to truly determine what constitutes success when it comes to letting go.  The "problem" is that not one day after patting myself on the back for achieving "let go" status, I set up the ironing board for a marathon ironing session that got rid of all the clothes hanging on the doorknobs and the molding, and even a few from the overhead rack above the washing machine.  Because it was making my skin crawl.  I couldn't sleep thinking about all of those clothes hanging in there waiting to be ironed.  I couldn't bear to do any more laundry because I knew it would just end up being added to the hanging purgatory of un-ironed clothing.  Needless to say, the hamper was running over.  There were piles of dirty laundry on the bathroom floor.  And all I was doing was averting my eyes.

There has to be some kind of balance between this so-called letting go and my typical reality.

My reality and true problem is this - I have an All or Nothing mentality.  If I can't do it all and do it perfectly, I don't do it (nor do I want to).

I was driving in my car the other day, and I heard a commercial on the radio about this very topic.  I have no idea if it was some kind of public service announcement or if they were actually trying to sell some sort of product, but the gist was this:

Being perfect doesn't work.  Looking at life like this means there are only two options:  perfection or failure.  And since no one is perfect (and never will be), this means that those of us who strive for perfection end up feeling like failures.   

All of the time.

I am sorry, but that is just not acceptable.  I don't want to live like that [anymore].

I have always had the desire to do things well.  And if I can't do them well, I not-so-subtly opt out of the activity.  The list of these things-at-which-I-don't-succeed has grown over the years.  There's skiing, drawing, conversing casually on the phone, playing basketball, understanding time zones/time changes, almost any kind of right-brained activity, and (most regrettably) cooking.

I'd like to say that I've had some sort of big epiphany, but it's not so much that as I just don't want to live life feeling like a constant failure anymore.  That sounds a lot more dramatic than it really is.  I'm not down in the dumps or anything.  But I am relentlessly hard on myself, and I'm giving myself permission to screw up from time to time.  From here on out.  I've accepted that I will have failures, but fear of them is no way to go through life.  Failure is part of growth.  And by eliminating things from my life, I am robbing myself of potential joy.

Like learning and loving the seemingly right-brained art (that is also a left-brained science) of photography:

Like coming in 70th in a 5K:

Like even attempting to use a sewing machine to make a present:

There's untapped potential in there.  I might not be the next David Muench, Kara Goucher, or Amy Coe, but how can I know unless I give it the ol' college try?  I'm nothing more than a quitter if I tell myself "I can't."  And that's not the example I want to set for my kids.  I can.  I will.  And at the very least, I will try.

Next on the list of things-I'm-not-automatically-good-at-so-I-automatically-hate is cooking.

I'm a terrible cook....or am I?  Maybe I just haven't spent enough time up to my elbows in cooking oil, vegetable peels, and spices.  Maybe I made one bad thing when Sam and I first got married (peanut butter chicken in the crockpot - BLECH!), so I wrote off cooking...for the rest of my life, apparently.

I am eternally grateful for a husband who cooks (and cooks very well I might add), but traditional gender roles aside, I want to be able to cook.  I don't want to dread this necessary part of life because I've told myself I'm not good.

Geez, when I put it down in words it sounds ridiculous.

This is where you come in, readers.  Help me become a better person and a better cook.  What are your sure-fire, go-to, not-too-difficult-for-a-novice recipes?  I need encouragement...and a starting point.  I'm counting on you!

Thanks, as always, for reading and letting me drone on and on about my own personal brand of crazy.  I hope one of you can relate.  And if so, I'm letting you off the hook.  We're in this together.  Here's to putting aside self-doubt, having new experiences, and discovering new passions!  There's so much to this life - let's not miss out!


Carrie said...

Good Lord, I could have penned this post myself. I absolutely relate, to nearly every word (minus the 5k part... and the sewing part!). I recently discovered in myself that perfectionism + procrastination + indecision = paralysis (aka not doing anything) and regret (aka wishing I had). Thanks for posting this and making me feel normal! PS - Cooks.com has by far the EASIEST crock pot chicken, pork, and beef recipes on the planet. I like the crock pot because it's easy prep early mornings and leaves just sides for me to deal with at mealtime. Just type in your key ingredient and crock pot (ie. "chicken crock pot") and up pops simple minimal-ingredient recipes. Best of luck to you on everything!

Aneesa Cappellano said...

I can totally relate too! I have the curse of perfectionism too and it really is plain ol' dumb!
I don't really think there is an actual talent to cooking, its really just trial and error, and experience. My first couple meals with Nick were not so great either. And he once made a comment our first year of marriage that I cooked "everything out of a bag" :) So, I kept on trucking. I asked my mom for alot of her tips/recipes because I grew up with her cooking all the time. Also I love the Kraft food and family magazine, you can look at it online or subscribe for free! They have tons of easy and yummy food in there...breakfast,snacks, dinners. I have watched food network religiously since we got married too! If I try to tackle really new and difficult recipes I get frustrated real fast, especially with small children you have to find things you can make fast and simply. Over the years, I have collected many recipes that I can rotate through that I've got a "grasp" on, so they're easy b/c I've made them so many times. We'll have to chat, because I love this topic :) Just send me a message with any specific questions, now....I'm not saying I'm an expert or splendid cook...I just love doing it (especially baking) and have come a long way!
Thanks again for a lovely read!!

Debbie said...

Well, I'm glad to see this post! I was beginning to wonder who had kidnapped Jennie.

Oh dear, I could have written this entire post, and anyone who knows me well knows it. I'm so impressed that you aren't willing to drag that all or nothing monster into your late 40's like I have. You are my inspiration!

On the subject of cooking: It's my instinct to say that I'm so moderate of a cook that I would be no help, but actually, we moderate cooks might be your BEST help since we lack the confidence to just throw it all together.

I really, really like to go to recipes.com and look for recipes. Specifically, I like it because of the rating/comment section. I get my best tips, additions, substitutions, etc. from those comments.

I type in the basic thing that I'm trying to make and then click on the recipes with the most comments and highest ratings. Then, I read through all of the comments and figure out exactly how I want to make it. (It's too discouraging to think you have "failed" at a recipe when it might just be the blechy recipe and not you to begin with. That's why I like the ratings.)

Also, I love this blog: http://butteryum.blogspot.com/
I love it because she walks you through all of her dishes step by step. I'm so visual that I love that. I have tried several of her things with success each time. Take a look at her archives.

This comment has become a novel so I WON'T yak about how adorable that gift you made for Chloe is!!

Debbie said...

Oh, and you do realize that now we're all going to expect a cooking update weekly, right?

Shaunna said...

I've been having this exact talk with myself the past couple of days. I don't like realizing that I am the type who allows one drop of ink to color the entire beaker of water. One bad thing doesn't erase the good! Good luck with the cooking!! That's on my I do it pretty good list, but a 5K.....hahahahahaha

Jennie said...

Thank you all, sincerely, for helping me feel slightly less crazy. (But I'm so very sorry you are all afflicted with the same disorder!)

Carrie ~ Your equation is dead right. I'm all over the crock pot! Thanks for reminding me about it!

Aneesa - I just might message you for some more details! (Then you'll be sorry you offered! Ha!) The weirdest thing is that I LOVE to bake, but I hate cooking. So that's why I think it's like 99% mental. I used to get the Kraft magazine, but now that you mention I don't think I do anymore! I'll have to check into that...you're right though, it was great! (And not too difficult.)

Mrs. Debbie ~ How DARE you show me that blog? I looked at it yesterday before I left work (at 5pm and I was STARVING). It actually looks great and right up my alley. Definitely a visual person here too. Don't expect a cooking update...but I just *might* try to every once in a while to prove that I am not just full of hot air. (No comments!) ;)

Shaunna: The beaker analogy is great!

Elizabeth Edelen said...

one of our favorites (and super easy!): http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Slow-Cooker-Chicken-Tortilla-Soup/Detail.aspx
don't bother making your own tortilla chips, we just crumble up ones from the store and throw them in.
betty crocker's chicken pot pie is my kids all-time favorite (using store bought refrigerator pie crusts to make it quicker)

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