Let’s talk about perfectionism. What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism: refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
I have struggled with perfectionism for almost all of my life. I noticed a need to be perfect in every aspect of my life, whether it was school, dance, theater, social media, you name it. Even when writing this blog post there was a little voice in my head telling me that it wasn’t good enough and that I should start over (again). In some ways I am very thankful for my perfectionism, it has given me a fantastic work ethic and attention to detail. I often pride myself on being a perfectionist during interviews because of all the good qualities associated with being a perfectionist. However, there happens to be a lot of dark qualities to those struggling, which leads to a sense of failure.
I can think back to the first time I realized that being “perfect” was getting in the way of my success. I was in third-grade about to take a multiple-choice math test, and I was apprehensive. It wasn’t that I wasn’t prepared for the test, I was a smart kid and knew the material, but I let comparison and perfectionism consume my thoughts. When I was given the test, I remember reading the first question and having to read it again. I probably read that question 100 times over and over again because I couldn’t get myself to choose an answer. I was too scared I was going to choose the wrong answer. I sat there on the same question, while my classmates started to turn in their tests. My hands trembled, my face turned red, I looked around and realized I was the only one still working. I quickly scrambled to finish the test by filling in answers. My fear of failure caused me to fail.
I wish I could say that that was the only time I let my perfectionism get in the way of my success. Throughout all of high school and college, I strived to be the perfect student, the perfect daughter, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect employee, the perfect blogger, the perfect actor, the perfect dancer, the perfect photographer, the perfect sorority woman. The need to be perfect was making my life anything but perfect. It’s like I was running towards something that I would never reach. And even though I was tired emotionally, physically, and mentally, I couldn’t stop running towards that “perfect life”.
So why am I writing this? Mostly because I wanted to share a little bit about my personal struggles, but to also bring awareness. I have seen a lot of judgment when it comes to my perfectionism, most people don’t realize it’s not something I choose. I get a lot of backlash for worrying about my work, obsessing over small details, and caring about what others think of me.
Others pride themselves in being “a perfectionist” because they like things to be detailed and organized. What they don’t realize is often linked to mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
“the higher the perfectionism is, the more psychological disorders you’re going to suffer,” says Sarah Egan, a researcher on perfectionism at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
Overcoming perfectionism is not an easy task, it is something that I continue to struggle with myself. By taking small steps of confidence, I am slowly but surely creating a happier lifestyle. Even this blog post is a step closer to overcoming perfectionism. I know it is far from perfect but I am becoming more accepting and trusting of myself. If you find that the need to be perfect is getting in the way of your happiness and success, I encourage you to seek professional help.
Remember, you are doing the best that you can and that is enough.