Expectations: Perfectionism’s Evil Child

measure1cI am the opposite of a perfectionist. That is undoubtedly true.

What am I then? Apparently if you’re not a perfectionist you’re a rebel.  I found this out by searching for antonyms of perfectionism. Here’s a list of some of the antonyms:

Oddity, dissenter, defector, eccentric, fanatic, individualist, loner, maverick, radical, rebel, nonconformist, romantic, unorthodox.

I had no idea that’s what the world thought of me. I like the list because I like to think of myself as a rebel.  But on the other hand I don’t like it because it seems to imply then that perfectionism would be the norm. I don’t know. Maybe it is the norm. But that is so wrong. So misguided. I think I need to find a better word for the opposite of perfectionism. I’ll have to come back to that.

Fellow blogger Mirror of Encounters had a good entry the other day on perfectionism. You should check it out. It got me thinking about Perfectionism’s evil child: Expectations.

You hear the phrase “I have high expectations” or “I have low expectations” quite often. I’m always pausing to ponder when I hear these phrases because I’m always wondering what is the source of the need for these words to be uttered.

My first though was does it matter whether the comment is made about oneself or about another? At first I thought it did matter since in one case the word are being applied to judge oneself and in the other are being applied to judge someone else. But in either case it is about judging based on expectations you’ve determined to be the right ones. So perhaps it lands, like it so often does, in the lap of Ego: the strong belief that your expectations are infallible. Infallible might be a bit strong but it makes a good point.

My second thought was that in uttering “ I have high expectations” you’re letting me know that you’re expectations and standards are high, probably higher than mine, and in some cases higher than even you can expect to achieve. Or in the case of uttering “I have low expectations” you’re letting me know you’ve already passed judgment on yourself or another’s inability to meet said arbitrary expectations, and in effect saying I know these can’t be met but I want you to know that I prescribe to them because this somehow elevates me above you. And so again, we are back to Ego.

OK, it’s getting a little deep in here and I’m in danger of getting lost in my own minefield but I will slog on because I think I’m coming to a point, or a pint, as I originally typed.

So, you can see I’ve very scientifically established that perfectionism and expectations are tied to Ego. So expectations are personal, whether they are of your own creation or established by someone else.

But expectations are not what people think they are. They are not right or wrong. They are not good or bad. They are not high or low. What they are is either in synch with the context to which they are being applied or they are not. Expectations that are so high they can’t possibly be met are pointless. Expectations that are so low they change nothing are useless.

Which means they HAVE to be flexible. Which means they are NOT absolute. Which means they have to evolve. The expectations I start with may not be the ones I end with. They have to be organic living things. They have to be tied to what you’re trying to achieve and where you are in that process.

Organic. That’s the word. That is the opposite of perfectionism.  I am Organic. And if in exercising my organic nature I’m labeled a rebel, then I embrace that.

I will evolve. Will you? I have high expectations for you.

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About joegergen

To evoke a smile. That's all. Author of "Methane Wars: A Fable" and "Lear's Fool" as well as various poems and some these painting things as well.
This entry was posted in Freedom, Personality and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Expectations: Perfectionism’s Evil Child

  1. I love your take on perfectionism, I think “organic” is an excellent contrast to perfectionism

  2. Sarah Oh says:

    I totally agree! Organic is the WORD. I’d like to think that the world is constructed in a more natural order, with an organic community much rather than the perfect world of boring, and plastic-looking individuals.

  3. joegergen says:

    Reblogged this on Once More Unto the Change and commented:

    Thought I would share a post from my personal blog. I think it is appropriate to the world of change.

  4. t3rasquad says:

    Expectations ARE flexible. I have to remember that. We’re all guilty of judgement. That EGO is so controlling!

  5. joegergen says:

    Someone needs to have a talk with this EGO.

  6. feministepoetique says:

    I both a perfectionist and a rebel.

  7. I remember a conversation with a therapist about perfection…he suggested that perfection was dull. uninteresting. bland. imperfect was superbly engaging – jagged edges, permitted others to relate and engage. It stuck with me. Organic works too. I embrace the jagged edges, the highs and lows, and bare my belly more. As Brene Brown says, Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity and change. Sort of like organic? Sometimes I need a reminder, particularly when it comes to expectations. This was one. Thank you Joe.

    • joegergen says:

      Welcome to the dark side, Jen. I do suppose sometimes I’m a bit hard on the perfectionists, but I justify it by remembering all the times I’ve been beat up by them. And beside being on the dark side means you get to kick a little butt now and again.

  8. Pingback: Finding an “Ism” that I can Live For | Fortress of Dissolitude

  9. mini.R says:

    Ahaha, I hope not toooo high 😛
    Great point! I believe “organic” people may be said to be rebels because they don’t live like everyone else. Usually people are so attached to things – what they think, their opinion, their possessions, etc. – that they get stuck in the path to growth. They don’t question if maybe something else, completely different, would possibly work better for them or their lives; they don’t explore; they don’t accept change. But life is change, life is organic, so so should we! 🙂
    I never thought about flexible expectations, that could change over time, but I do now, and it’s very helpful – thank you 🙂

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