I am a Perfectionist

Do you know what it feels like to constantly beat yourself down for not doing everything you do “perfectly”? I do. Every little action I take is followed by a barrage of insults to myself because that corner of the painting looks bad or I missed one problem on my homework assignments. I wish I was capable of simply enjoying something I have made or even enjoying a moment with friends but even that is haunted by my perfectionism. Every word I speak echoes loudly in my ears afterwards as I run through every other possible way, I could have said it and every possible tone of voice I could have used and how that would change my current situation.

I am an overthinker too so I’m sure that is a big contributor to why so many options cycle through my brain but that doesn’t discount the insistent and pestering voices of my own criticism. I really do expect too much from myself. I want to be able to “perfectly” write, record, paint, speak, and even think perfectly but that is so silly. I’m not sure why I crave aesthetic perfection, maybe it has to do with my INFP personality type or because my whole childhood I lived in disorder and could only dream of having a “perfectly” organized and decorated homes that my friends lived in. I’m sure there is some sort of childhood trauma that causes a perfectionist need in me but that’s a topic for another day.

Anyway, at first, I thought being a perfectionist wasn’t even that bad because it showed how much effort I put in and how much I care about what I do and make. Now I don’t think it’s such a good thing, I think over the years I have beaten myself down so much by repeatedly telling myself that I am not perfect and therefore not worthy of anything I strive for yet. I think this idea of perfection has instilled false beliefs in myself that I don’t deserve anything I want or have worked towards until I am “perfect”. This just causes me to bottle up wants and desires to the point when I do splurge on myself and then I criticize myself for not waiting until I deserved it.

I don’t like the fact that I splurge on unnecessary things or sometimes spend too much or that I procrastinate and don’t finish projects I set out to, but I think it all stems from me not feeling worthy because I am not “perfect” yet. Woah. Ding, Ding, I just had a realization.

I need to find ways to reward myself for small wins so that I don’t feel guilty when I reward myself out of proportion, and to do that I need to throw perfect away. Seriously, I need to basically wipe that word from my vocabulary because at this point it is just setting me up for failure. Perfect sucks. Perfect makes me feel bad about myself. Perfect isn’t even real or possible.

Instead I should focus on the effort I put in, I did a whole research paper on growth mindset and that is one of the biggest key points. The people who value their effort over the results, tend to perform better anyway. I just need to start taking my own advice. Instead of striving for perfection, I am going to strive for balance, for peace, for completion, for fun. I want to have more fun.

I am so strung up and tightly wound, my boyfriend and I have had multiple conversations about it. I always want to have fun or be spontaneous or adventurous but when the opportunity arises, I don’t feel like the scenario is “perfect” so I let that feeling override my desire to explore new experiences. I get scared when the scenario isn’t how I imagined or isn’t planned out perfectly how I would like and when my focus is on the imperfection, I have no chance at enjoying the moment.

I also need to let go of my expectations of a perfect scenario or even any expectations of a new scenario. If I have never experienced these new things that I want to experience why do I believe myself when I expect them to be a certain way. And then I get upset that I was wrong, and things are different?!

Ugh. I exhaust myself; I can’t imagine the people around me. As much as I notice and dislike my own behavior, I bet these perfectionist tendencies affect the people around me even more. It’s awful and it makes me hate myself even more because I know I am the one in control most often, but the problem is I don’t feel in control.

I only feel a loss of control though because I expect to know how everything will pan out, but that is just setting myself up for failure from the start. Yeah maybe I don’t know how to act in social situations so I come across as awkward or rude or maybe I have made more mistakes than I can count but how else do I expect to learn. I am not even 20 years old yet and I have placed this huge pressure on myself to know how to spend money exactly right or to know how to interact as an adult around other people, or how to do fantastically perfect art, or how to write an entire novel, or how to start an online business.

I don’t know, and that’s part of the process, frankly it’s part of the fun. As rationally as I can tell myself “you don’t have to be perfect” or “it’s progress not perfection”, my emotions still end up ruling my life and that only leads to doubt in myself and comparison to what I believe to be perfection. So yes, I am literally throwing away perfection. I don’t need it because it has done nothing but bring me despair and unnecessary guilt. Even that will be a process, I again can’t expect myself to be perfect and abolish the idea of perfection from my mind overnight but when I do notice my inner voice shaming myself for not reaching perfection yet, I am going to calmly tell it to leave me the hell alone.

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