Why Can't You Be Like Me?

I recently stumbled across a personality test in a book I was reading.  After reading the names of each personality type and an overview of each, I was pretty sure I knew where I fit.  Still, I had a few minutes, so I took the test.  Imagine my unsurprise when I discovered I was, in fact, a perfectionist.  "Duh," I said, "anyone who knows me can figure that out."

The funny thing is that because I'm a mix of personalities (mostly perfectionist and peaceful/easy going), I tend to have all the bad traits of the perfectionist but none of the good ones.  For example, the first thing discussed about the perfectionist is that she is an immaculate housekeeper and gourmet cook.  Yeah, right!  I had trouble spelling immaculate, let alone being so.  Anyone who has ever stopped by my house unexpectedly knows that my house is a mess! (Sorry, Mom!)  There are dishes in the sink, tumbleweeds of dog hair on the floor, grime in the bathrooms and dust on the furniture.  Immaculate?   Not hardly.  And as far as a gourmet cook is concerned, all I can say is "Ha!"  My meals are edible and some might even call them good, but I'm not likely to win any awards in that area.

Now, when it comes to routines and schedules, yep, I'm a perfectionist all the way.  I like to have a plan, and I'm irritated when that plan doesn't work out the way I think it should.  See what I mean about picking up the negative traits but not the positive ones?  The worst trait of all, however, about perfectionists is that we set unrealistic expectations both for ourselves and everyone around us.  No one can possibly live up to the standards we set.  For this reason, we are often angry, hurt or offended by someone's lack of adherence to our plans for him.

We think everyone should function as we function.  I have a plan; therefore, everyone should have a plan.  I am not a procrastinator; therefore, no one should procrastinate.  Despite my messy house, things in my purse, songbook or class bag should always be returned to their rightful places.  To not comply is risky.  Why?  Because perfectionists are also known to be quite moody.  It's no wonder!  We're trying to transform the entire world into perfectionists, and it can't be done.

As I type this, spelling out the many faults of the perfectionist, I find myself wondering, Why in the world would I want anyone else to be like me?  Moody, irritable, rigid, scheduling the fun right out of life.  Eek!  In fact, it reminds me a lot of a passage in the Bible:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. - Matthew 7:1-5

Instead of looking at everyone else's faults, we need to turn our gaze inward.  Let's examine ourselves first and see where we may need some work.  It would be easy for me to excuse my impatient nature by saying, "Well, I'm just wired that way," but the truth is that not all personality traits are good ones.  Some of them lead to dangerous places.

I said all of that to say this:  You know that person who really rubs you the wrong way?  They do all the things you can't stand and don't seem to notice the way you shudder at their nasty habits.  Before passing judgment on that person or getting angry with him/her, take a moment to examine your own life.  Take care of your 2x4 before fussing about someone else's splinter.  Who knows?  After taking a look at yourself, you may not even notice the other's faults.

I'm busy enough trying to "fix" myself.  I don't have time to work on anyone else!