Embracing imperfection


Like many professionals, particularly the lawyer type, I have a tendency to be “Type A.” With this comes the need to be a perfectionist. This can lead to additional stress and anxiety, because who doesn’t need that.

I thought I had overcome this need for perfection, and in many ways, I have. However, the last few months have demonstrated that when things get crazy it creeps back in.

Let me provide an example. There is an indicator light on in my car, one of the many lightbulbs in my car burned out. When my car was in for service, I asked which light and how much. It was insanely expensive for them to replace it, so I let it go thinking I would do it. Then I never did it. But it didn’t bother me that much because it was a minor light that was not a safety issue.

Fast forward three months, when my personal life and work life are maxed out and this stupid indicator light is driving me crazy. I feel like it must be taken care of so that no indicator lights are on in my car. That is the need for perfection creeping back in.

Example No. 2: my home office. Admittedly, it has been the room that has received the least attention since we moved in, but it is still in great shape. I can absolutely have a productive work day at home in it. Since March, when we moved in, I knew it would be the last room to get attention, and I was OK with that because it was still very usable.

Now, however, with no extra time on my hands, I have a burning desire to get it done. Get every piece of paper in its place, get all the shelves hung and organized, and finish decorating. My rational brain knows that the office does not need immediate attention, but every time I walk in I am reminded of the work I want to do.

The crazy thing is that these unnecessary to-do’s cause unnecessary stress during an already stressful time.

Perfectionism is a great asset as a lawyer, and balancing it at work is much more manageable. I can justify it there. However, in my personal life, I want to go back to the me that was fine with the indicator light and fine with the unfinished office. That me was able to embrace imperfection.

I highly recommend embracing imperfection. I promise that your guests do not care that they can see dog hair or that your floors are not sparkling. No one cares that your hair is frizzy because it is raining or that your outfit is not perfect.

Angela Davis Pallozzi is counsel at Offit Kurman P.A. in Baltimore.