I have never, EVER, claimed to be perfect.
I have never aspired to perfection, in all its prissy, boring, completeness. Got it right on the first try, effortless perfection? Now, where’s the fun in that? Life, for me, is like writing. The rough draft is never supposed to be the Great American Novel. I have always been content to write and rewrite, until I achieve my brand of raw, laugh so hard you snort, imperfect sort of “perfection”. I thrive on that process; I live for taking the glimmer of a bare bones idea and turning it into something great. That is what makes me, ME.
So, where does that leave me in my new job as a bookkeeper? In a bit of deep trouble, it seems. My new position requires me to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time, ON-THE-FIRST-TRY. That is pretty much the opposite of my “go with the flow, just write it down and we will edit it to perfection later” personality. “A living nightmare,” I declare, dramatically, back of the hand to my brow.
To say this leaves me feeling slightly panicky, is the understatement of the century. “What am I doing? This is impossible…, I’m trying so hard… and it’s still not good enough…,” keeps reverberating through my head.
Except, I AM good at bookkeeping. I love organizing and putting things in order. It makes my heart sing when everything balances out, the debits equal the credits, and order is created out of chaos. I. AM. GOOD. AT. THIS.
But it is SO hard doing something new. At my age. In the middle of a pandemic, that has been going on for months. With summer now coming to an end and school craziness starting up. And there STILL are no scheduled kid activities (or Mom mental health breaks) anywhere on the horizon. There are new personalities to figure out, new expectations to manage, and new systems to learn. I am working in new industries, and with new clients too. There is the dreaded time constraint of how long it takes to complete a client’s books; they are being billed by the job and by the hour, time is money. Then there is the constant documentation of how every minute is spent. I practically jog to the bathroom and eat my PBJ at my desk. I haven’t exactly settled in, yet, or found my rhythm. I’m still a little on edge. “Do I fit in here? Can I be perfect?”
Some days I long for my farming job. I love whispering to my “plant babies”, as I transplant them to their larger containers (speak to them and they will grow). If they live, I have done my job right. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing something you have nurtured grow big and strong. The fundamentals of gardening are easy. Soil, water, sun. And your success or failure is readily apparent and easily acknowledged.
I also miss the comradery of the women I worked with at the farm. We’ve known and worked together for the past seven years. The fact that I am knowledgeable, dependable, and a skilled, hard worker does not need to be proven. That fact is understood, a given. It is easy.
Gardening and then farming came naturally to me. Growing up here in Sandwich, MA I helped my mother plant annuals in our garden by the mailbox every spring, and tulips every fall. During the summer, I helped my grandmother pull weeds and pick peas in her giant vegetable garden in Duxbury, MA. In college, I planted garlic cloves in pots by my window in my tiny dorm-room to see if I could make them grow, with decidedly stinky results. I rewarded myself after tough days at school with new house plants from the surprisingly large selection at Star Market on Brookline Ave in Boston. If I could sustain plants in my overheated, closet-sized third floor dorm-room, then I could grow anything. These seemingly magically ingrained principals translated seamlessly to working at the farm.
While I grew up learning to garden at home, I learned the fundamentals of finance and accounting at work and school. I spent my college summers as a bank teller on Cape Cod and in the fall, between my college classes, I worked the teller line in Boston. I learned to decipher a bank statement and how to tease out the mistakes in my customer’s check registers. My education at Simmons University, with its myriad of management and financial classes, has served me well in bookkeeping so far. I have an impressively strong foundation. Despite the uncomfortable feeling of being at a new job, in a new field, there is also the amazing feeling of flexing my mind. Each month I am amazed by all that I have learned and how much I have progressed. It’s like peeling back another layer, where the details become a little clearer and the “Bigger Picture” comes into sharper focus.
It remains to be seen how my new bookkeeping adventure will evolve. Will I settle in and gain new confidence in my abilities? Already happening. Will I take on new clients and build my base into a thriving business? I hope so. Will I take over the world, one bookkeeping client at a time? Absolutely. I will organize the hell out of you – my current and future clients — in a strictly professional but totally fabulous way, of course.
What I know for certain, in this new profession, is that I will always do my best; since doing anything halfway is never an option. Perfection is all in how you look at it and how you choose to define it. I will not be defeated by the inevitable missteps, instead I will embrace the learning and growing that is bound to happen along the way, knowing that I am moving closer to perfection. I also vow to TRY to be gentle with myself. Many times, I am my own biggest critic and naysayer.
What is perfection, really? Despite never before calling myself a perfectionist, I think, some would argue that I, on occasion, have strong, focused tendencies toward perfection. My marketing guru for my jewelry business, Jenny, and Corey, my sister, and graphic designer, who helped me set up my business in 2014, both would probably vehemently press the point that I am, in fact, an ABSOLUTE perfectionist. These women have helped me translate what I see in my head into reality. No easy feat, I promise. When I have a vision, I WILL see it to fruition, no matter how many tries it takes. Maybe therein lies the difference. I appreciate perfection and know it when I see it. I stubbornly strive for it. It just isn’t exactly a straight line for me to get there. Maybe all I need to do is adjust my perception, and embrace my inner perfectionist … crooked line and all.
If you are wondering, yes, in my not so free time, I am still whispering to my plant babies. I am just doing it on a smaller scale at my home greenhouse and gardens, instead of on the farm. Stay tuned to see some of my triumphs and setbacks on my crooked line to gardening perfection in my next post. I promise I have some good stories to tell….
I hope you are trying to be gentle with yourself too.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for me on thriving in a new job or industry? How do you keep your confidence up while you are learning and not quite at perfection?
Here is a little slideshow tease of my garden. The first set of pics is from May when we added a new section to the existing garden. The second group was taken just a few days ago while we were putting up some animal deterrent. Just click on the picture below to start the slide show. The picture will pop up with the caption, then use the arrows to scroll through the rest of the pics. When you finish scrolling through just press escape and leave me a comment. Enjoy!