Have you ever been told that in a job interview when asked the cringe worthy question “What is your greatest flaw?” ,that you should respond with, “Sometimes I can be too much of a perfectionist?”. As if that trait will show your interviewer just how great you truly are?
Well I’m here to tell you why we all need to stop idolising perfectionism as such a admirable quality. Perfectionism isn’t great, not even by a long shot. Sure your friend who is a organised and on time for everything might joke around and say ‘Oh well I’m just a perfectionist’ as if it’s a term on endearment. Yet is it? Perfectionism by my experience has done nothing but add to my eating disorder, anxiety, mental health struggles and over all feeling that I am just not good enough.
We all know the saying no one is perfect but the word perfectionist colloquially often evokes qualities of someone who people believe quote on quote ‘Have their life together’. People imagine a perfectionist as someone who is organised, punctual, smart, type A and all around an achiever. While many of these traits are admirable the trait of true perfectionism isn’t.
By definition a perfectionist is;
A person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.
Any standard short of perfection… but perfection doesn’t exist. We all know that. Yet we use this word and describe people with it attaching a profound respect for their ability to chase something that isn’t real. An unattainable and dangerous game. For me perfectionism has helped heighten and add to my history of anxiety, stress and deep unhappiness.
See being a perfectionist and labelling yourself as one can lead you to feel as if you are someone who must always be the absolute best. You must be the most beautiful, most put together, achieve the best grades and simply aim for perfection in all areas of your life. It is safe to say that whenever the word perfect is attached to anything you are setting yourself up for disaster. An unquenchable thirst which will never be fed. You will never be enough, do enough or complete enough to be satisfied.
I still struggle with the need to be perfect, be the best, do my best. I find it hard to stop, slow down and any perceived failure is a black mark against my pristine record of ‘perfect’. It is a walking measuring stick of all the wrong doings and instead of pushing me to greater heights it can limit me from even starting. For if you’re not going to do something well, why do it at all? Am I right my perfectionist peeps. The pressure to be perfect is so fearful because the odds are always stacked against you. You are and never will be perfect.
The anxiety I feel in regards to my online presence, social media feeds and self can be overwhelmingly paralysing. Ultimately bringing me nothing but comparison. Comparison and perfection can be the perfect storm to a never ending catch up game. While in the past I would of prided myself on being a perfectionist, I utterly hate the connotation now. I am not perfect. I don’t ever want to be and while I always see streaks of the stress to prove myself as perfect as one can be, I try my upmost to now see perfectionism for what it really is.
The consistent obession with our world wanting to make all things perfect and without flaws aids this internal drive within those of us who do struggle with acceptance. Anything but perfect can feel as if we are unworthy and a failure. What an awful way to live.
If you are someone who deals day in and day out with the internal or external pressure to be perfect, just know there is help out there. Perfectionism is a trait I would wish upon no one.
If you are someone reading along and connecting with all that is being said, I truly urge you to look into things such as therapy, yoga, meditation, journalling etc.. This world places way too much of an importance on perfectionism. This here this is your sign that you do not have to be perfect and to re-examine your perfectionism.