The first time I saw that quote was the first day I used my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. Emily has a quote for every single day of the year, and on February 4th it was her own, "I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection." I tend to look at the first day I use my planner as a fresh start, and this quote could not have been better guidance for the week ahead, and probably the rest of my life.
Last Sunday I was getting ready for work and decided to glance at a paper I planned to write the next day. I was right in the midst of exams, and had a really hard one on Monday morning. I also had a short research paper due Monday night at midnight. The research paper was on a broad and interesting topic, and I've been known to bust out 6-7 page papers in a few hours, so I planned to focus on studying for the exam all weekend, take it at 8am and then spend the whole day writing my paper. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. But then I looked more closely at the directions. At the bottom of the 5th page of instructions it said that the paper must be turned in to this Turn It In site, which generates a report that states how much of your paper has been taken from an outside source and could be plagiarized. Not generating a report resulted in an automatic 10pt deduction and the reports can take up to 24 hours each. If you had more than a 5% match you needed to fix it and wait for the new report.
I literally froze and started to cry (because that fixes everything). I was leaving for my shift in less than an hour, and 1pm shifts usually go to 7 or 8. It was also snowing like crazy, and the people with shifts after me had a tendency to call off. If someone coming after you calls off, you are automatically responsible for their shift. I could easily have been stuck there until 10. Plus 45 minutes to home...there was no way I could start and finish my paper by midnight. I was having an absolutely panic attack and tried to find as many peer reviewed papers as possible before I left for work so I could get right to reading when I got home. However, since I was in such a panic I couldn't focus on anything, and I was just wasting time. So I sat for a minute and tried to breathe. "I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection." I made a stupid mistake. It was dumb and completely avoidable, but it was done and there was nothing I could do about it then except do the best I could.
So I went to work. I am always the happy cheerful one, so it was immediately apparent to my coworkers and managers that something was wrong (it also could have been my puffy eyes from crying the whole way there...). After explaining what happened their first responses were why I didn't just call off. I told them I wouldn't do that, since it was my mistake, and I didn't want to make someone else have to stay late and become responsible for my shift. My usually scary general manager heard about what happened, told me to just breathe, and promised he wouldn't let anyone call off because of the snow. I continued mumbling under my breath grace, not perfection. The day was going to be miserable, but I could crash and burn and throw a fit, or tackle it with as much grace as possible. I calmed down, worked an insanely busy shift, and when the GM left he told the night manager to make sure I got out asap. They let me out at 5, even though we were on a wait, I got home by 6, and turned in the paper by 12:42am, 11:42pm Alabama time. It came back the next morning with only a 4% match...and everything was okay. My paper was finished, my report was generated, my exam went well, and my coworkers and managers knew I took my job responsibilities and their time seriously.
It is so easy to get caught up in perfection (I mean...have you looked at Instagram lately? Do these people ever just wear sweatpants?!) and feel like a failure when you don't reach it. I don't think that's fun or healthy. Being perfect would be awesome, but considering my Valentine's Day gift to Dom was finally washing my hair and doing the dishes since we've both been crammed with exams this week, I don't see it happening any time soon. But, grace on the other hand? Grace I can handle.