Tag Archives: neurosis

Maybe it’s time to fail.

Being back in school at the age of 34, I’m learning more than books and such; I’m learning how to try at something.

In my younger days, I never studied for school and often did my homework at the last possible second, but my grades were always above average.  Yes, that’s great, but I developed a nasty habit; when I was faced with any adversity, I’d simply quit.  Better to not try at all than to fail, right?  Totally…  I’m sure I never missed out on any character-building life experiences with that attitude.

Now I’m back, though, and I’ve decided to try. But that way lies madness…

I’ve aged into a ripe old perfectionist, which you know if you’ve been reading my blog at all.  This character trait has caused me just a little bit of anxiety, and that was before I decided to try at things.   Now, instead of being able to tell myself, “No one’s judging you! it’s all in your head!” I have instructors who are in fact judging me, and it’s not all in my head.


So I give every assignment my best effort.  And apparently my “best effort” borders on the psychotic.

First, I start each assignment as early as possible, just to draw out the torture.  It might be “finished” within the first couple of days, but then I proofread. I proofread and proofread and proofread and proofread.  I re-read the assignment parameters and proofread some more.

When I finally convince myself that making any more changes would be excessive, I simply gaze upon the completed assignment.  Is it perfect?  It looks perfect.  It gives me an excited feeling inside…

Excited feeling? Why? Well, here’s the real secret: I want my instructor to look at my work and immediately know that this assignment is A MASTERPIECE.

Have you ever seen A Christmas Story?  Classic holiday movie about a kid named Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun.

Stay with me, here.

There is a scene (linked below) where Ralphie turns in “A Theme” to his teacher, and he’s sure it is the best theme his teacher will ever see.  He fantasises about her reaction to his work, which results in a grade of A++++++++++++…

I want that. I know it’s silly, and people don’t dress like that anymore, but I want that.  For every assignment I hand in ever. I want to know the instructor has never seen anything better.  It might even change their very outlook on teaching, on life, on the mysteries of death and the afterlife.

No, it doesn’t escape my notice that I share the same fantasy as a fictional 9-year-old boy. The heart wants what the heart wants.

So I gaze.  And I fantasise.

And I doubt.  And I second-guess.

And I proofread, because deep down I believe that perfection is possible.  If only I could choose the right word here, and use a semi-colon correctly there…

So how can I give myself a break?  How can I break the habit of thinking that perfection is actually possible?  How can I stop this need for excessive validation?

Perhaps I need to fail at something.  Fail, and not give up. (Oh, the horror of it…)

Obviously this is not an experiment to be taken lightly, nor one to be performed on my school work (I’ve got a GPA to maintain).  I can think of a few things I might try out, though… I’m not any good at painting, so I have some painting supplies languishing unused in my storage room.  Maybe it’s time to pull out the ol’ canvas and brush, even if the result is a total fail.

Maybe it’s time.

The Nervous Nelly

Welcome to Perfect Panic!  

You should read this blog if you are


  • someone who enjoys laughing at the misfortune of others.  Don’t worry… it’s okay to admit it.  If it weren’t for people like you, the Meet the Parents franchise would have flopped and there wouldn’t be so many videos like this on the internet. Or pictures like this one:

*My anxiety requires me to apologize in advance to any nice people who may have been offended by the above picture.

So you’re going to keep reading?  Great!

To up your reading pleasure, first watch some of this video of David Attenborough talking about the Elephant Shrew (Sengi).  Now imagine that Sir Attenborough is narrating this post.


“The domesticated Nervous Nelly is characterized by its anxious behaviours.  If we were to insert a camera into its burrow, we might witness a scene rather like this one:

An adult female sits in a nest of blankets, engaged in typing behaviour on a laptop.  She’s been writing and re-writing the same email for about 25 minutes.  It will probably be another 10 minutes before she actually sends it, after which she will immediately regret not spending just a little more time proofreading.

The cell phone on a nearby table suddenly rings, and the subject begins ritual hyperventilation; she really needs to choose a ringtone that doesn’t make her feel quite so anxious.

Surprisingly, the Nelly doesn’t react by answering the call.  Instead, she picks up the phone and places one finger over the speaker, muffling the noise.


Her keen eyes study the display, shifting back and forth between ‘Decline’ and ‘Answer’.

Really, there’s no way that she’s going to decline the call; that’s rude.

But answering the call is equally out of the question, because that would mean talking to a real human, and Nellies need more mental preparation for that sort of thing.  

She’ll just let it go to voice-mail.  But wait… Did she remember to change the greeting after she got back from vacation? She’s sure she did.  Or did she?  She totally did.  But if she didn’t… the caller is going to be very confused.  Drat.  Maybe she should answer-

The phone stops ringing, and  the voice-mail icon soon appears on the screen. As the sun sets in the west, the Nervous Nelly sets the phone aside and plans to listen to the message when it doesn’t seem quite so terrifying.”


In case you hadn’t guessed, the Nervous Nelly is ME.  *gasp!*

It is fairly typical for me to deal with calls to my cell phone exactly as Mr Attenborough described.   It’s a problem.  But I’m working on it…

Fun fact:  I spent about 3 hours* editing and obsessing over this post after it was, for all intents and purposes, complete.   I had emotions.  

*low estimate

Expect more posts filled with angst and hilarity.  Not all of my posts will be narrated by the great Attenborough, though – that was a special treat.