Striving for Perfection is an Unrealistic Expectation

And I should know. I am a perfectionist and thereby I am constantly disappointed. My tendency to plan everything to the minute and to the way I want it to be inevitably falls apart. I am aware of this unrealistic expectation and have been working through it. How? By reminding others that flawlessness doesn’t exist. When I hear it come out of my mouth and see the other person’s reaction, it clicks a little more.

 My show, See How They Run, opened this weekend after a tough tech week. After years of being involved in the theater, I always seem to forget that there will be stress and worry on my part. I am worried about everything. Is the show going to be good? Will there be people in the audience? What will go wrong?  One of my theater professors and mentors, Dr. Eleanor Ferrar, never watched her shows. After I graduated, I finally asked her why she chose not to enjoy all the hard work. She said she couldn’t handle the non-directed incidents which, by the way, happen all the time in theater (and in life).  This came from a director who has directed for over 30 years.

Yet, I completely understand what Eleanor meant by that. Besides not having my full cast until the night before opening (flu season), I also started panicking over the idea of me having to understudy one of my actresses. As a director, I am prepared to take over any task…acting is not usually on the top of the list. That all worked out. She came in ready to rock and her being back raised the morale of the team. Then, at today’s performance, one of my actors got hurt. No one knew since it looked like it was part of the show. I, however, internally freaked out knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. The show had to go on and it did…with a few bruises and swellings.

As the captain of the ship, it takes a tremendous amount of discipline and strength not to crack under the pressure. It also takes acceptance. Accepting that it is not going to happen the way I necessarily envisioned it. And you know what? Thank goodness because this is how I learn to roll with the punches in theater and in life. It also adds a little spice to the mix.

 So does that mean I will stop worrying now that we are up and running? Uh, no. I am sure there is something else for me to set an unrealistic expection upon that will make me crazy. Then we start the cycle all over again!

 Have a lovely Thanksgiving!


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