Stop Being an Uptight Jackass
Lessons from a reformed Type A personality
Back in 2002, I hosted the family Christmas Dinner. All of my in-laws were in town. In situations like this, I tend to be a little over the top. Shocker. I also suffered from horrific perfectionism and major Type A Personality issues. All of this was a recipe for disaster.
I had conjured this amazing image in my head of exactly how that dinner was going to go. That was a mistake. I even hand made placements and napkins. I have no idea what the Martha Stewart Living I was thinking. Who the hell does that?
As you can imagine, something went wrong. It was small. Something I was making didn’t come out…perfect. Anything less than perfect was unacceptable because I made napkins, damn it!
The temper tantrum I pulled following this could have registered on the Richter Scale. I slammed pots and pans. I snapped at people. I fought back tears.
I pouted for the entire rest of the night that I was sure I had ruined.
I did this for years after until someone reminded me that no one had the expectations of me that I had of myself. They told me I was being an uptight jackass. It was for my own good that they said it. Because it was true.
We take ourselves way too seriously and end up peeing all over perfectly good situations. We try to control things that are way beyond our control. We worry about things for far longer than we ever should.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Learn to take a compliment
There is nothing that bothers me more than the deflection of a well delivered compliment. I was the master of this. If someone told me my dress looked nice, I would find some way to piss all over that moment.
I would say it was old. I would dismiss it’s value by telling people how little money I paid for it because it was on sale. I pulled the “This old thing?” routine. I am certain I sounded like a tool.
Saying “thank you” is enough. It doesn’t make you vain. You’re not the one giving yourself the compliment.
Acknowledge your own magnificence, for God’s sake.
Leave the office at…5pm.
There is nothing noble about sitting at your desk until 7. Not one damn thing. I’ll let you in on a secret. You know who never notices you do that? Your boss. You know who does notice you do that? Every single person that works under you.
When you stay late, odds are, they stay late. Don’t be that person. If you want to be a workaholic, that’s not a great option either. But, for the love of God, go home and do it.
Germs are everywhere. Stop freaking out.
Lack of antibacterial hand sanitizer is not the end of the world. Soap is fine. Look, I have a teenager. This means I live with a 15-year-old Petri dish. She play sports. Smells emanate from her room that cannot be re-created nature. Interesting, I am never sick.
My grandmother had a theory that you eat a peck of dust before you die. I have no idea how much a peck is. But I think I’m pretty close to my lifetime allotment.
Those paper toilet seat covers? They do nothing. The actual skin part of someone’s derriere is not the offense part. Everything else in the bathroom is the offense part. Just recognize that using a public restroom is going into a war zone. Get in, do what you have to do and then get the hell out as fast as you can.
Give up control
Most control issues are not control issues. They’re trust issues. You don’t trust someone to do something (the right way) so you’d rather do it yourself.
Delegation is liberating. You have to let go of the idea that the world will fall apart if something is not done exactly how you want it. This is true for a couple reasons: 1) Other people have some pretty kick ass ideas and 2) You’re not that damn awesome. No, seriously. That sounds horrible but you’re not.
Letting someone else do the work gives you a second to breathe and you need it. You can’t tell me you don’t.
Give in to imperfection
That thing that you want to be perfect? The hours you spend on your kid’s birthday party decorating it so that everything is just so? Yeah, no one cares. They came for the cake. And they don’t care what the cake looks like. They just want to eat it.
If you’re running a potluck at work and you end up with three sides and eight desserts, no one is going to die. Well, Kevin with the blood sugar issues might, but no one ever got mad that there were too many desserts.
You see a theme, right. Give people sugar and they are happy.
Let someone else win
I see you. The dessert you brought to the potluck? It was the best one. You slaved over it. It took you two hours. It was so much better than Nancy’s. Her’s was store bought for the love of God!
Nancy, though, took that two hours she didn’t spend on making a dessert and got herself a massage and a glass of wine. When you compete like this with Nancy, Nancy is going to win. Every time.
Life is messy. Life is imperfect. So are we. You have to let go. It’s hard. It takes small steps. It feels uncomfortable. You’ll be anxious. And then you won’t be. You’ll feel slightly liberated.
I am releasing you into the world of store bought cupcakes. Go with joy.