Do you have a good memory? I can’t always remember what I ate for dinner the night before or what we did last weekend (#mombrain), but there are certain memories from decades ago that stick out to me.
I guess everybody is like that?
Anyway, I can’t recall (go figure) what provoked the resurfacing of this memory, but something—a podcast or quote, maybe?—led me to reminisce an incident in kindergarten that I will never forget.
Eraser-less Pencils: Lessons in Perfectionism
Do you remember those big, fat pencils that didn’t have erasers? I think every pre-school or kindergarten student used those when learning how to write for the first time. They were easy to grip!
Despite their ease of grip, those pencils weren’t very conducive to correcting errors.
One time I made a mistake on my handwriting “homework,” and, not wanting to just leave it the way it was, I tried to “erase” the pencil. Without an eraser, that proved to be difficult.
My “corrective efforts” created a huge mess because I wet the paper and tried to rub away the pencil markings.
I ended up getting a “C” (or whatever less-than-perfect “grade” we were given at that age) on that homework.
I don’t remember my exact feelings, but being the little perfectionist I was even at that young age, I am sure I cried and stomped and felt the entire world was against me (basically how I react to disappointment/failure as an adult).
And I’m sure my mother hugged me, reassured me that I was smart, and made clear that it was OK—normal, even—to make mistakes.
Now I’m sure this teacher had no idea that eraser-less pencils had a deeper meaning or purpose other than teaching hand-writing, and I mean no disrespect to this kind and nurturing woman who died from cancer many years ago (RIP).
But of course, it got me thinking.
How many of us are stuck with eraser-less pencils even today?
How many of us have allowed the image and idea of perfectionism to be drilled into our being so deeply that we allow a single mistake to ruin our entire perception of ourselves?
Learn from Your Mistakes
We should always, always strive to improve ourselves and to grow from experience and knowledge, but we have to remember that mistakes—big and small—are an essential part of life.
Mistakes are how we learn.
But even though mistakes are a big part of life, I think we all have a right to an eraser. Or correction tape. Or, in today’s electronic world, a delete button.
While we can never completely erase the impact of our mistakes—especially the hateful words and dangerous actions that bring harm to our own lives or to other people—we should be able to pull out that eraser or correction tape when needed.Your mistakes do NOT define you! Click To Tweet
We should never feel that perfection is the only measure of our worth. That a little hint of graphite or smudge of ink or a full page of angry strike-outs and scribbles is a measure of inadequacy.
Even the best leaders and innovators make mistakes. In fact, some of the most important discoveries resulted from experiments gone “wrong!”
I guess my point (pun not intended) is that, yes, it’s noble to put our best foot forward and try to produce high quality work.
It’s important to make goals and try your best to achieve them, but it’s ok if you fall short sometimes.
It’s fine if you need to back-space or use that eraser.
And if you don’t have an eraser, it’s ok to acknowledge the imperfection or mistake and move forward.
You don’t have to be perfect.Do you make use of your “eraser?” Sharing lessons in #perfectionism Click To Tweet
[thanks for letting me think out loud]
So tell me…
- Do you struggle with perfectionism?
- What recent disappointment or mistake has turned into something positive in your life?
- Did you ever use those fat, eraser-less pencils or am I just showing my age?