Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Mohamad A. Chakaki
December 25, 2000

I went in to speak to Professor Yeide last Friday. The semester went relatively well but I owed him several (ummm ... seven, to be exact) papers. You know, the short 1-2 page responses due every week. To be honest, I did the reading ... with the exception of Paul Tillich's Systematic Theology. I attended all the classes and contributed significantly. To that Professor Yeide attested himself. Anyhow... I was worried Yeide would either force me to complete these papers or not give me a passing grade. The idea of either of these scenarios playing out scared me.

Neither did. He said it would affect my grade but he couldn't see any benefit of my writing the papers after the fact. In usual Yeide style he didn't just send me on my way. Always took the time to talk and ask me how things were. This time, however, he had some insight for me. Something he'd observed and felt concerned enough to share. I've spoken to Professor Yeide on several occasions. Taken this Religion 101 class twice now. He's read many of my papers and heard many comments/questions from me in class. As such, Professor Yeide was comfortable sharing his diagnosis: very bluntly, he said I was a perfectionist.

I must say, I was at a loss for words. I tried to put together a sentence. A few sentences. None of them came to fruition. I tried b/c to be silent was too awkward. How did he know? The man hit the nail on the head ... squarely on the head. That is one of my most overarching weaknesses ... revealed. I am a perfectionist. How many times did I try to toil through one of those responses? Just one to two measly pages... that's all it would take. Some of the papers I even have complete outlines for. Some I half started. I just couldn't half-ass them. Why do I feel like pouring my heart and soul into my work is the only way to do it? Wait... is there something so wrong in that? Do it right, or don't do it at all.

Yeide said that part of becoming an adult is realizing that there isn't enough time to do everything as we'd like to. How jaded. He said I have to learn that often just adequate work is called for... not excellent work. I don't know... sometimes I do just adequate work. Or are those endeavors that fall short of even attempting excellence? More often than not I begin with elaborate, overachieving outlines... they rarely come to be. Time or energy wane and my plans fall to the wayside. Disturbing b/c this pattern manifests itself in my life in general: aim high, fall short. I am a perfectionist. Am I an idealist though? Not enough of a realist? That's not what Yeide was saying, was it?

I don't see anything wrong with idealism. As a young adolescent I detested the bitter realism of adults. How jaded. I pride myself on being more of kid at heart... idealistic in that regard. I don't know... maybe I haven't grown up. Maybe life isn't meant to be ideal... just real. Reality isn't innocent or childlike most of the time anyway. Most of the time it's bitter and jaded. But back to perfectionism. Yeide was talking about aiming high, falling short, and then not having anything to show for it... much reading, good outline, no paper. That's where adequate work comes in. It gets the job done. Maybe it isn't an accurate reflection of how great I can be... but it's better than nothing.

But at the same time... every job is a reflection of the person performing it, right? I don't want people to judge me by a half-assed job. Sometimes I feel like my work is an extension of my character... if it's good I take pride in presenting it, if it's bad (or even just going to be) I'd rather not present it at all. All or nothing... a favorite expression of mine. An all to accurate representation of my personality, I'm afraid. That's what Yeide was talking about. The extremes... great work or no work. It shouldn't be that way. Yet it can't always be great work. Yeide said that as well. The balance is b/w great work and adequate work. Pick your battles... that's what I said. There's a time for both and there's much wisdom in that.


sent this old journal entry, along with a short letter, to Professor Yeide today. it’s nice to read through now and again... just for focus... still have much to do in the way of implementing all that’s said in here though. in just doing/accepting “adequate work” from time to time. what else to say?...

No comments:

Post a Comment