Confessions of a Perfectionist Part 2- Failure Is NOT an Option

So, remember a few posts back, I mentioned an end-of-year project I had to do for my daughter's kindergarten class? Weeellllllll, let me tell you about it now, becaue it illustrates my point perfectly.

At the end of every school year, our school, like many, holds a kindergarten graduation. It has become a tradition for the room-parent(s) to put together a video slideshow of the kids' year to be shown after graduation. This year, we had two room parents, one for each kindergarten class, but since the parent from the other class had never made a video before and I have, I took it on. And it would have been fine, it really would have, if our computer hard drive hadn't started to fail.

Shortly before I took on the project, we noticed a significant slowing-down of our laptop's function. Normally, when we have computer trouble, we go straight to my dad, the family computer guru, but I just assumed that the slowness was a result of having too much stored on our computer, particularly because I was trying to be better about transferring pictures from my camera's memory card to the computer and, finally, to our external hard drive for back up. I figured that once I had cleared things, function would resume as normal. I think it's probably not necessary for me to tell you that it didn't.

In the mean time, I had started to send out emails asking parents to provide me with pictures of their kiddos at school events; anything from the first day of school on. Days went by and I received emails from maybe 5 parents. Out of 26. I sent several follow-up requests, and so did the teachers. In the end, about 10 parents got in touch with me to help provide pictures, for which I am incredibly grateful. Because, while I try to take pictures at the kids' events, I can only make it to so many of them. There are events I miss, or kids that I may not get many pictures of, etc.

So, anyway, I'm working to a hard deadline already, and it is further complicated by trying to get other people's contributions sent in and organized. I spent HOURS -DAYS, really- fighting the slowness of my computer as I tried to get submissions sent, downloaded, and organized. But I finally had most of them ready to go, and I was only waiting for the last few special events of the year to happen so I could add pictures of those at the end. And the last thing I needed pictures of was a fieldtrip- scheduled for two days before the end of the school year.

Fast forward to the second to last day of school. I had to miss the kindergarten field trip because I was going along on a different trip with my older daughter. One of the other mamas had very nicely volunteered to take some photos of the K trip for me, and she, along with another parent, sent some in. I spent some time trying to convince my computer to load those photos into my software, then moved on to the music. It was taking me 20 or more to perform simple functiions, but about 11 pm I had all the music right, all the pictures timed, and I was ready to burn my video to a disc.

And THAT was when I realized that we had updated our computer, but not my software, and I now needed a conversion program to be able ti prepare my files for burning to a DVD. For many more hours, I sat at my computer, searching for some conversion software that I felt I could trust, trying to download to my quickly dying computer, and attempting to convert my files. 

Eventually, my husband went to bed. I finished putting together end-of-year teacher gifts, I prepped everyone's clothes for the morning, I sat with my head on my laptop keyboard and cried for a while as I waitied for things to move. At 4 am, I finally realized that I was not going to get my computer to convert the files and burn the disc. I saved my files to the disc instead of burning them, and went upstairs to take my shower while I waited to make sure that my computer would finish the task. FINALLY, at 5:30 in the morning, I packed up my computer, my disc, and everything I would need for the last day of school. I was praying that the school would either have the type of media player I needed, or that my laptop would function significantly well-enough that I would be able to show the slideshow. 

In the end, it worked in the classroom computer, and everything was fine. But I was exhausted. I didn't go to bed that night at all. I didn't even doze on the couch. I didn't sleep at all.

You're probably wondering why I didn't just save the file rather than burning it in the first place, and there are two reasons: 1) I wasn't sure if the slideshow music would save properly on the disc, and 2) I wasn't sure the school would have the correct media software available and I was pretty sure that my computer wouldn't make it through the showing.

Ok, then, so why not just go to the school and say, "I'm sorry, I was unable to finish the slideshow"? That was, afterall, my husband's suggestion. But here's the problem: all those people were counting on me. Teachers, parents, even some of the kids knew the video was in the works. I had spent hours sorting pictures, choosing, downloading, and paying for music, and timing those pictures. I had sent out many pleas asking for contributions. Every parent who sent me pictures told me how excited they were to see the video. I couldn't go there and tell everyone there wasn't going to be a DVD. I couldn't tell all those people I had failed.

I'm sure that as you're reading this, you're probably thinking, this isn't that big of a deal. Writing it now, it doesn't feel so bad, but, then, time has passed, and I'm finding that it's hard to effectively communicate the urgency of my situation. But I often have a hard time letting go of things like this.

I know it's crazy. I know it probably wasn't worth staying up literally ALL night. I always tell my kids that the most important thing to me is that they try their best, no matter the outcome. As long as they feel that they have TRULY made their best effort, then whatever comes after doesn;t matter to me. And I know that I should accept that for myself, too. But sometimes - most times - I feel this need to be good at whatever I do. For me, failure is not an option. Please understand that this doesn't mean that I DON'T fail, because I do, every single day, in a hundred ways. But it's a really hard thing for me to do in front of others.