What's your view on perfectionists? Not your average perfectionists who simply want everything they do to be the best, but the kind of perfectionists who tries to suck the happiness out of your own activities by putting you down because you're not bloody perfect?
Today I went Dragon Boat Racing for the first time at a local festival. It was an amateur event for corporate teams, school teams, sports club teams but no professional dragon boat teams were allowed. For half of our team it was the first time we'd tried it. Our only practice was paddling the boat to the starting line.
I got very wet and I had a ball. The first race we went in we came second and we were overjoyed. Last year our team had one second and 2 last places. We were fortunate in having a great 'sweep' at the back of the boat who coached us mercilessly.
In the second race we also came second at a much faster time; as a team we felt much more together. We were all gee'd up for the third heat, and it was neck and neck. A photo finish. We came second but we were exhilarated. We were paddling in unison, we were flying on the water and we were a tightly-knit team of people who'd suddenly grasped a sporting concept. We had qualified for the minor final on the day but many of our team had other commitments and couldn't stay, so we satisfied ourselves with a team best. You'd be hard pressed to meet a happier, more satisfied bunch of people after that third heat.
After the first race my 'friend' Whingy arrived and proceeded to pick on everything and everyone. Wasn't I going to take my bracelet off to paddle? (No.) Was I really paddling wearing THAT? (That being technical merino leggings, top and knickers, chosen because they dry quickly in the sun, and I told her so).
According to Whingy our team was hopeless in the second race. And the third. I in particular was rubbish apparently. G was watching from the shore with Whingy and she kept up a running commentary on how awful all the teams were, putting everyone down and being generally degrading. G couldn't believe how nasty she was being; maybe she was jealous because everyone was having fun and not taking it too seriously.
Whingy you see, is a serious dragon boater. She is with a dragon boating association, practices in a team twice a week, paddles in regattas with other teams who practice regularly and therefore judges our amateur efforts unfavourably against her own (naturally perfect) ones. Like everything else Whingy turns her hand to she has to be perfect at it - and she has no time for people who aren't perfect at it too. She is unbearably smug.
She was doing her best to suck the happiness out of my day. So what if my team was a bunch of mugs having a go? The main thing is this bunch of mugs had a go and loved it. I suspect that perfection comes at a price and if she judges her performance to be less than perfect she doesn't enjoy it at all. For me it was about being out on the water on a stunningly sunny spring day. And that was perfect.