refusal to accept any standard short of perfection
The other day, my friends and I attended a local university's education expo. The university made a visit to my school a few days before, and yesterday, because my friends and I decided to try and apply, we submitted all our admission requirements and did an interview for them to determine whether or not we were qualified for receiving the scholarships we desired.
At one point in the interview, the lady asked,
"So Joanne, according to you, what do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?"
I kind of saw this coming, and had already set up an answer in the back of my head. I began answering and at one point I mentioned the one most noticeable personality trait I have, that other people already know about me as well.
"Well, I'm a perfectionist..."
The words tasted like vinegar as I uttered it a little quicker than I'd expected. The thing is that I've never actually admitted it so straightforwardly. But it's true, it's been a part of who I am perhaps since middle school. The title of this post might make it sound like a disease or personality disorder, but that's not the case.
In psychology, perfectionism is defined as a trait characterised by a person's strive for flawlessness. We set immensely high standards and expectations, both upon ourselves and other people. I remember times where I would get a 99 on a test (a bloody 99, which in retrospect, is actually not too horrible) and I would cry. My friends would look at me and think God, is she really this hard on herself?
When you're a perfectionist, failures (or flaws, even) are strictly unacceptable. Many people validate the mistakes they make and simply call it "being human", but for perfectionists, this is almost never the case. When you fail, you think it's because the circumstances went against you, or it must be something you lack. You start questioning everything, and your mind turns to the familiar cycle of "I should've done that instead", "This is all wrong", or "It shouldn't have happened that way". You never feel truly satisfied.
Well hey, perfectionists, why are we like this? Why do we drown ourselves in phases of "not good enough"s and refuse to give ourselves room for imperfections? Why do we choose to give ourselves that pressure of getting it right?
Perfectionism is a sprout that could come from many different seeds. The most common ones are low self-esteem and the toxic habit of overthinking. We don't feel like we are worth the chance of starting over or correcting flaws.
Comparison also comes into play. We fall into the trap of comparing our level 2 to another person's level 15, failing to take into account that they must've had many trials and errors themselves before reaching their success. But we don't think like that. We grow obsessive, thinking "oh God why can't I do this one simple thing that that person seems to have easily mastered?"
Why do we continue? It's time to step out of that shell. We want absolute perfection, but we have to learn to acknowledge limitations. To live life as it is, not through what you expect out of it, or what you want to achieve. You try your best, and with whatever the outcome, you learn to think that yes, this is enough.
Now I use my perfectionism as fuel to drive me forward. It gives a good set of motivation, because high standards pull out more productivity. It's true that for perfectionists, working is easy. We work at our own pace, and are equipped with a lot of determination. So perhaps, perfectionism is a shrub that we don't need to cut down, but we just need to prune. Life isn't always perfect, and we will not (never) be perfect, but wouldn't it feel great to actually embrace it, instead of constantly trying otherwise?
I'll write again soon.