Perfection Paralysis

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Some people’s conscience sound like their moms. For some, it’s their fitness coach. For others, Morgan Freeman (aka God). For me, it’s been Dana White (at least for the past week). From the cover, it looks like a book about how to stay on top of your dishes – which it is. But what I didn’t expect is how it surfaced some weird ideas about my significance. This book is night and day from other home management books/blogs/articles I’ve read because she gets the inner mind of slobs. Like millions of people around the world, I too have KonMari’ed parts of my home but for me, having fewer stuff did not translate into my home staying clean and tidy. I totally admire what Marie Kondo does, but part of me isn’t that impressed because she’s been an organizer since she was a child! It’s like watching Usain Bolt compete on Biggest Loser, Thomas Keller on Chopped, or John Krasinski on the next season of The Bachelorette. (Maybe that last reference a little too Candy-centric) There’s something magical about seeing someone go against ever fiber of their being. Enter Dana White.

Early in the book she confessed how she found out that people were actually selling empty toilet paper rolls on eBay. She was so excited that free money was literally sitting in her bathroom she devised a plan to get her family on board to help her save enough toilet paper rolls to sell. She cleared some space in her vanity to put an empty box and asked her family to remember to put empty rolls in the box. Two months passed and she only had 2 rolls in the box. However the space that box took up in the vanity caused a cascade of clutter. Was it really worth the $10 on eBay she would’ve gotten for all the hassle of collecting empty rolls? She also talked about how she often tries to wash her dishes perfectly – air-drying the items that need extra TLC. However this ended up with a pile of dishes that were perpetually being air-dried because air-drying takes time and putting away dishes takes time and eventually, it becomes easier to just pull from the pile on your counter. The knife hit my heart when she said “sometimes worrying about doing something the best way keeps me from doing anything.” UGH. YES. ME.

Being a self-proclaimed ENFJ, I had to dutifully dig into my soul as to why I felt so paralyzed by perfection. Yes, I’m sure it’s partly a neurosis. But as I thought about it more, I realized I had this unhealthy obsession about things being done consistently and perfectly. Somehow I must’ve believed that if it couldn’t be done consistently and perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing. What was even more peculiar was that I 100% own the fact that I am inconsistent and imperfect… so why is it so surprising to me that things I do are inconsistent and imperfect? Insert the emoji with the chin resting between the thumb and index finger here.

Once I realized this, I immediately saw how unnecessarily dramatic I was being about so many things in my life. Let me just name six.

  • I am now 7 months behind blogging about Charlie. Should I just start at month 9? That doesn’t seem right! Okay, I’ll go on a blogging marathon for months 3-8. Crap I can’t even remember what happened in those months. POOR SECOND CHILD. Insert Perfection Paralysis.
  • I want to read this new book! Yikes, I still have 10 books I haven’t finished.
  • I would love to make a photo book of our 2017 summer. But I haven’t done our 2016 photobook and our wedding images are still sitting on 2 DVDs. I am tired just thinking about this.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Charlottesville. And the Google Memo. And diversity. And unity. I have a draft that I started after Ferguson. That was 2014. Where does one even start Equity 101?!
  • Hello laundry that needs to be folded. You know what will be perfect? Folding you after the kids go to bed while watching Black-ish. Perfection (or Optimization) Paralysis.
  • I need to get some fresh fruit. I have some time right now but you know what, I will wait for the Mountain View farmer’s market that’s only on Sundays from 9am-1pm. They have the BEST STUFF.

There is a time and place for precision and sure, we can call it perfection – like calculating the re-entry path for Freedom 7. No one would fault you there. However I think you would all agree with me that the things I listed above would not fall under that category. For 95% of the things I put off, my quality of life would be significantly improved if they were just done rather than perfectly done.

As a teacher, I would always have a major freak out every time I wanted to change a routine in my classroom after the first day of school. Whether it was as major as a grading system or pushing up/back a date I had committed to, in my mind, I imagined my students organizing a coup, overturning desks and burning papers because MS. SOHN CHANGED HER MIND AND NOW HER CLASS SYLLABUS IS VOID. Yet 10 out of 10 times I admitted to changing my mind, they would barely even look up and just rolled with it. Humans are incredibly inconsistent and yet incredibly resilient.

I want to come up with a better ending to this post, but that would mean saving and coming back to it later (which by now you should know means never). So here is me taking a baby step to ending paralysis.

Pressing the Publish button in 3…2…1….

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The Day After

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Two days ago when I posted on my wall, “I hope that I can get over my own biases and get to work tomorrow…” I 100% thought it would be from the position of someone whose candidate won the election and I would be extending an olive leaf to those who do not share my point of view. I imagined celebrating, breathing a sigh of relief, posting the picture above and high-fiving a vast majority of my friends either in person or on social media.

Needless to say there was no celebrating, no relief and no high-fiving over the new president elect. (In full disclosure, there may have been high-fiving over some urine making it into a potty.)

This morning I cried with Van Jones when he thought about how he was going to explain this to his children, read Trump’s acceptance speech, had a come to Jesus moment thanks to Cardinal Colbert, teared up watching Obama’s speech (mostly at the thought of missing him so much) and ugly cried when I watched HRC’s concession speech. I read a lot. Prayed. Thought a lot. Tried to pray some more. I also ate an almond biscotti, a bagel and a Costco polish dog all before 1pm. I must’ve looked like a mess all day because my son asked me every 24 minutes asking me if I was happy or sad. I have nothing new to add to the conversation. I do feel compelled to write to remind myself of what I’ve learned from this election cycle.

 

  1. I am in a bubble…. that I have created. Yes, I live in California. I also reside in one of the most liberal urban centers. Heck my favorite color is blue (Go Chargers/Bears/Warriors). I was sympathetic towards people who had their misgivings about Hillary, but I was sure that given the choice between the two, everyone would see that there was an obvious choice. My friends, Facebook feed and go to news sources confirmed this. I never felt like I needed to say anything because wasn’t it obvious? It wasn’t until the last couple months that I started to learn that maybe not everyone around me felt this way. In fact half of the nation doesn’t feel this way. I was completely blind-sided.
  2. The Trump Phenomenon is real. As Donald Trump won primary after primary, I stopped gawking at him and turned my attention… okay, my incredulity, to his supporters. Yes Trump has unapologetically exploited employees, admitted to misogynist discourse, spewed hateful speech against people of color, LGBTQ+ and women. There are people like that in the world. I have come to terms that I can’t help that. But what does it say about people who are willingly choosing him to become their president? It blew my mind. I started to form this picture of what a Trump supporter looked like – White, racist, gun-yielding, bigot, uneducated, unconvinced by facts, anti-immigrant and angry. And probably from a fly-over state. The more I read about people who have spent some time in rural America, the story becomes less sensational and more nuanced. Their pain and disillusion is palatable. These people who voted for Trump know that they are the butt of jokes. They see it on TV and all over media. I’d like to think that they are just as repulsed about Trump’s behavior, but perhaps they felt like he was the only one that heard them.

    Perhaps the biggest aha moment came for me in the shower today, when it dawned on me that I know what is like to be caricatured.

    Granted I’ve never been called a racist or misogynist simply because of who I voted for or my party-affiliation, I know what it’s like for people to assume things because you identify with a group. For me, it’s being a Christian. I love Jesus. I know that makes a lot of people really uncomfortable in the Bay Area. Just like I have a picture of what a Trump supporter looks like, many people have similar pictures of what a Christian is like, the things they care about, the people they elect and the platforms they hold so dear. When Evangelicals make the eleven o’clock news, I often squirm because, for better or worse, I wonder if my friends think that I support so and so’s behavior or even worse, share the same values as so and so. I find myself thinking, “Wait, wait. Please hear me out!” On the flip side, though I did vote for HRC, I am not on board with every single Democratic platform. I feel the “Wait! Wait! Hear me out!” on multiple fronts.

    I can only imagine that’s how many people felt this cycle about supporting a controversial candidate. No candidate is perfect, they’re just trying to make the best decision for themselves and one that echoes their values.

    For the record, while there is room in our democracy to disagree with one another, we should never make room for the oppression, hatred, marginalization of any person or group. We need to stand up against it every time. But the tricky thing is doing it with humility and resolve without dehumanizing one other lest we become the very thing we hate in others.

  3. I need to engage. If I want to work for the flourishing of my city, state and country, I need to be brave. I shied away from calling out racism because I was too chicken or assumed I couldn’t change anything. I avoided getting into controversial conversations because I’m freaked out by awkward. I chose silence because I was too lazy to type and think after a full day. Lord help me to engage in a way that is productive and builds bridges.
  4. Fighting for what is right is messy. I need to remind myself over and over again that I should not be surprised by messiness. Hills summed it up well ‘Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.’

Here’s to moving tomorrow a little bruised, but a little less prideful than yesterday morning. Let’s get to work America.

2015 in 10

Before looking forward, I think it’s fitting to look back. Grateful for 2015 – the ups and the downs and the Person who makes goodness and beauty from it all.

  1. We moved out of our first home into a new home. I learned that my heart can find its home in people not an address. And though living in your new home can feel like a prolonged AirBnb at first, it eventually goes away.
  2. We threw Wes his first birthday party! I learned that decorating is a lot more fun when you borrow your friend’s Silhouette. Also if you can swing it, outsourcing the food prep to Miguel and 5 Star Tacos is one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made.
  3. Doljabi Ceremonies are a lot more fun when you throw away all the white collar professions and opt for careers that bring people true joy and happiness – chef, barista, crossfit coach, rap artist and those nice people at the Apple store.
  4. We planned our first church wide retreat and survived to tell about it! I learned that you really need a team of diverse talent to pull off retreat. Also – Mt. Hermon is nothing short of magical.
  5. If your entire family contracts a stomach bug the night before an all expense paid trip by your work and you’re having second thoughts about going… just get on the plane and go. You might as well be sick in someone else’s bathroom and sleep in someone else’s bed that you don’t have to clean.
  6. It is nearly impossible to discern the difference between a growth spurt / teething / sleep regression / wonder week in infants and toddlers. I say just pick whichever one gives you the most hope.
  7. We decided to splurge and get NFL Sunday Ticket. It turns out it was one of the worst seasons for the Chargers since I became a fan 10 years ago. And so many of them got injured, I couldn’t recognize half of the team at any given moment. Oh and it may have been their last season in San Diego. Great. Can we get our money back DirectTV?
  8. We attended a great parenting seminar in the fall. I think about the things I learned often. Haunting words (paraphrased): “You can’t make up for lost time. Your kids just want your attention and your delight.”
  9. Toddlers are really great for sparking joy and wonder in your life. Things that make Wesley say “WOOOOOOW”: The automated clothing rack at the dry cleaners, play kitchen ovens, elevators and coffee machines.
  10. We hosted our first Thanksgiving! Special shout out to our double oven. The highlight of that night was watching Tim’s cousin’s kid (second cousin?) read Wesley all of his bedtime books on our bed. Two Thanksgivings ago while I was pregnant, this sweet girl was trying to convince me to name my future son either Percy Jackson, Niko, Ra or Hot Cheeto. What she didn’t know was that I was going through some pre-term labor drama and if someone told me at the time, “Hey, I promise your baby will make it to 37 weeks but you have to name him Hot Cheeto” I would’ve said “Where do I sign?” Wes made his debut at 37 weeks and 2 days. We are still grateful every day.

2015 collage