The Problem with Perfect
Updated: Apr 2
Without realizing it, I can be my own worst enemy. I can push myself beyond reasonable expectations. It's easier for me to pile things on, than dial them back. My mind is set up to "help me do my best" by creating strict requirements, which are virtually impossible to meet. This is what perfectionism is like. I make it impossible for myself to succeed because the bar is so high, and I give criticism, disguised as helpful feedback, for each step along the way. When your mind is set up and molded to be this way, it can be very hard to untangle. It gets even harder when you've had success in multiple areas of your life, from being a perfectionist.
Thoughts might sound like: "I know my attention to detail was a huge strength in that job." Another common perfectionist thought is: “If I don't hold myself to these standards and push, and push and push, I’ll become lazy.” This is a thought that is not based in reality, but it absolutely has roots and strength in the mind.
I've also had evenings, moments and experiences that were "perfect”. The reality being that an evening we hosted may have gone "flawlessly", but I was likely stressed to the maximum before, during, and after. I sacrificed my enjoyment of an evening, so that everything could look and taste perfect. Evenings like this are not good memories with value. It’s easy to type these thoughts and see the common sense, but when you are battling perfectionism, it’s not so easy to stop the behaviors.
It's been a long, slow, difficult lesson to learn the biggest price of perfectionism is the toll I've taken on myself. It's not worth it. I hope by sharing these experiences I may be able to show you it's okay to let go of being hard on yourself. If you are struggling with perfectionism, I hope you can start the journey of turning away from these habits by giving yourself credit for the good things you are doing, big and small.