Tenacity, Thy Name is Superfection


Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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3 Responses

  1. fillyjonk fillyjonk

    I still can’t get over the sheer cruelty of naming a board game, probably one bought for kids who are themselves budding perfectionists, after a personality trait that makes a lot of people miserable.

    (I call myself a “recovering perfectionist” but the truth is I’m not so much “recovering” as I’ve realized I’m too much of a screw-up at a lot of things for anyone to think me a “perfectionist”)

    We never had the game but friends did, and of course kids are cruel, as you pointed out: “my playmates relished the chance to pwn me at something.” Though in my case it was usually playmates’ older siblings; my few friends and I would have been content to construct entire Shakespearean dramas for our stuffed animals to act out instead.

    Perfection and its ilk also remind me of a particularly-1970s, or so it seems to me, way of torturing schoolchildren: the timed math test. This was done to us in the primary grades (though i remember the more complex ones from as late as 7th grade): a mimeographed sheet with 100 simple arithmetic questions, either addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. The catch was you had to complete the test in five minutes….or later on, in the later grades, presumably because we were either better at arithmetic or more deserving of punishment, the time was shortened to three minutes.

    The teacher would put a big kitchen timer on their desk. You could hear it tick and you cringed, anticipating the “ding” that would indicate failure.

    I don’t know why they had us do those. Calculators existed; if quick calculation was needed in the future those could have been used. This wasn’t like 1960s NASA with a room full of women with slide rules figuring out how to get a man to the moon and back. I assume that it was either something handed down from above that the teachers had to do, promulgated by an administration who WERE stuck in the era of “calculators” being “a room full of women who can do arithmetic fast in their heads” and were training us for that. Or maybe my teachers were just sadists.

    Yes, I learned my times tables, though really only up to 10 (11 is not that hard, and 12 I eventually learned after I became an avid knitter; a lot of stitch patterns come in multiples of 12 and you have to know how to resize garments…)

    But I doubt I could do any of those tests in three minutes now; I’d probably freeze up. Being told to do a lot of work in a very short time is the fastest way to bring on a bad stress response in me. (The closest thing I ever had to a panic attack was in a situation like that).

    But yeah. I wonder if they still sell games like Perfection these days, or if child-development experts have concluded an anxious single-task-oriented workforce is not really what we need….Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to fillyjonk

      You know, I actually considered a section about perfectionism in this but it was flowing as it was so I didn’t go there. I too am a recovering perfectionist, I was such a perfectionist it was actually kind of crippling in my late teens to 20’s. And things like timed tests (although not math, because I wasn’t great at math since we moved so much) and Superfection actually fed that for me. I was always good at that kind of stuff so it led me to conclude that whenever I encountered something I couldn’t master easily, that meant I was a failure and so I should immediately give up before anyone found me out. So I would try to get things perfect outside of prying eyes – even to the crazy extent of writing rough drafts for thank you notes, and in adult life, you just don’t have the time to do things that way. So I ended up very stressed out about people finding out I was a stupid failure, and I just kind of withdrew and stopped trying to do anything I couldn’t do perfectly. :/ Took me a long time to get over that.

      I have not seen Perfection for sale, although I have to admit I would not have bought it if I did.

      Thank you for reading!!Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird

    “Gumption is the psychic gasoline that keeps the whole thing going. If you haven’t got it there’s no way the motorcycle can possibly be fixed. But if you have got it and know how to keep it there’s absolutely no way in this whole world that motorcycle can keep from getting fixed. It’s bound to happen. Therefore the thing that must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is the gumption.”
    ― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


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