I (Joan) love stories from women who find relief from trying-too-hard-to-make-it-all-just-right. I met today’s guest blogger, Sara Nelson, at the AZ American Christian Writers Conference where I recently spoke. We became friends on Facebook and yesterday I read this “note’ on her FB page. Sara agreed to share her story on my “relief of imperfection” blog. Read, enjoy, and smile!
Guest Blog: The View from Up Here
They say hindsight is 20-20, but for me, hindsight is microscopic, capable of turning the most miniscule mole hill into a massive mountain! This microscopic view is perfectionism. I used to think of perfectionism as a strength. I might have argued that its the driving force to success. It pushes me to excel, doesn’t it? No! Wrong! Instead, I’ve discovered perfectionism pushes me down, not up!
This morning I dropped in on my student teaching classroom for a little while, just in time to work with students in Math, and I started to feel all choked up and sentimental about the time I’ve spent with them.Just think! A few weeks ago I was in tears over Math and tearing my hair out over Science! And in February I really didn’t know if I was going to make it through to the end? How far away and long ago that seems!
While it may be easy to look back on student teaching NOW and think, maybe it wasn’t really so bad, yet, AT THE TIME, it really was an uphill struggle. It really was one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever faced! So, from the perspective of today, having climbed the mountain, what have I learned? What is my view from up here?
Years ago, we stayed at an armed forces recreation resort in Germany. It was off-season, and the buses that normally took tourists to the top of the mountain weren’t running, so a group of us decided to hike to the top. For most of the way up the mountain, it was foggy, drizzly, and cold. But, eventually we walked out of the fog. The top of the mountain was bathed in full sun with a magnificent blue sky overhead. Yet it wasn’t the sunshine at the top that inspired me nearly as much as the view looking back. A snowy-white blanket of clouds covered the valley. Not a trace of anything else could be seen.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned from student teaching is about maintaining perspective. Everyone—EVERYONE—tells me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but I shake my head at them in disbelief. I point to my flaws and faults and failures. It’s as plain as day, people! Look at how far I’ve missed the mark! Seeing things any other way has always been next to impossible for me. But, now I understand. I get it!
Let’s face it. No matter what, there will ALWAYS be something I should have done that I didn’t do. There will ALWAYS be something I should have done better. There will ALWAYS be something I should not have said or done, or something I should have said or done in a different way.
Perfectionism is like hiking up that mountain all those years ago in the fog and drizzling rain. Perfectionism sees the worst. It focuses on the gray and dismal. It is cold and unforgiving. But, what a difference is the view from the top of the mountain! Like the fog that covered the valley, I’ve discovered my mistakes and blunders fade. They do! Whether it’s by grace or simply time moving on, after awhile, the mistake that seemed so hideous last week is a less than a speck today. What peace I’ve found in leaving perfectionism behind! This is by far the greatest lesson I’ve learned from student teaching. I didn’t know I’d be saying this, but the thing that seemed most difficult to me has become one of my greatest victories and greatest joys.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.