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A Battle with Perfectionism


Pefectionism has had its grip on me for as long as I can remember. It fought me particularly fiercely in high school to the point where I had a few panic attacks from letting it take over my every thought and blocking any sense of intuition I might have had. It has waxed and waned since then, but it is always there to some degree, waiting to strike hard again and completely debilitate me. How does it manifest itself?

Perfection is unattainable, so why do we have such a deep relationship with it?

It stops me before I ever start

Whenever I have a glint of inspiration to try something new, perfectionism stops me in my tracks and bludgeons the idea. All the times I have told myself, ‘maybe I should pick up the guitar and try to play again?’ or ‘why don’t I try drawing?’ and didn’t because of perfectionism’s evil ways. It speaks back to me out-speaking the initial inspiration, ‘You are going to sound horrible.’ or ‘What will you even draw?’ injecting me with a heavy dose of cynicism that keeps me from ever trying. It seems silly considering anything that I start for the first time will generally be horrible. It makes me think about all of the missed opportunity over the years.

It makes me care way too much about what other people think

I fear that if I fail perfectionism, I will fail in other peoples’ eyes. It’s grip has caused me to try and please people that I don’t necessarily care about instead of pleasing myself. Turns out pleasing others before pleasing myself can cause a lot of dissatisfaction.

It holds me back from embracing failure

Failures, while atrocious at the time, are the moments that allow myself to reflect, pivot, and bring me closer to purpose. But perfection is the arch-nemesis to failure. Yet it never faces failure head on, it dodges and runs from it, like a coward. As a result, I have come to fear failure and hardly ever reap the benefits that it brings; thus I stay stuck.

It makes me do things I don’t want to do

The combination of the aforementioned manifestations of perfection all lead to me chasing and striving for the things I don’t want to do. Because perfectionism makes me not start the important things, has me fearing failure, and ultimately trying to please everyone else but myself, I end up doing many things that are against my values and morals, just because. ‘Go with what your heart says’ is just a saying without meaning, as all intuition that comes from the heart is shielded and locked away by perfectionism. Present instead is this feeling of floating aimlessly through life, gripping onto whatever is easiest to prevent the trauma that comes from embracing imperfectionism.