Can I just start by saying, f*ck perfectionism?
That evil, the little goblin is my most compulsive addiction. It’s a specific variety of masochism for which many of us assume we experience privately, in the confinement of our own minds.
Except for we don’t. Raise your hand if you want to be perfect, but know you never will be, so you distract yourself with food and Netflix and cry silent tears of inadequacy into your pizza.
Haha, what? Definitely not me…
Here’s the thing. Perfectionist tendencies do not remain hidden in the secrecy of our internal experience. They bleed into every aspect of our lives. They quietly emerge in the form of unbelievably high expectations for our romantic partners, inflexible standards of acceptable behavior for others, and most agonizingly, constant, restless murmurs of the unrelenting inner critic, compelling us to strive ever upward.
That motherf*cker never pauses to acknowledge our immense efforts or extraordinary accomplishments.
It’s a ravenous little creature, demanding more than you could ever possibly deliver, never retreating, perpetually judging, perusing for mistakes or defects.
Prepare yourself: this is about to get dark.
It drives you to a distinct form of self-hatred, deteriorating your self-esteem and once sufficient self-worth in an insatiable effort to attain the unattainable.
Maybe the most dangerous attributes of perfectionism are its abilities to paralyze you while simultaneously encouraging you to compare yourself to others, convincing you that you’re never going to be good enough.
If you, like myself, prefer a specific and equally as unfortunate variety of mental torture, over-thinking, you’re regularly assuming failure or an inability to measure up, sabotaging each new creative venture before it begins, driving you to waste countless hours thinking, yet never doing.
I have spent weeks strategically avoiding my writing in an effort to silence the demands of burgeoning ideas sprouting in my brain because I didn’t think they were good enough, or that I would fail to get it just right, or worst of all that frankly, they were not worth reading.
There’s nothing wrong with an appetite for success. In fact, purpose, drive, and ambition beget progress. It’s when we get carried away, becoming obsessive and unforgiving of our failings, demanding greater and greater returns. We manage to squeeze every last drop of joy and satisfaction from our pursuits, robbing ourselves of the fulfillment and peace of mind we gain from a job well-done.
The reality is, we are all deeply flawed creatures. Nothing we will ever do is going to be perfect, which means we’re forced to become comfortable with the idea of, “good enough.” We’re all familiar with the old cliche, “You are your harshest critic.” So give yourself permission to reimagine your definition of success…and of joy and contentment for that matter. What does success mean to you? You already know my main squeeze The School of Life has your back in this video:
But seriously, does everything really need to be perfect in order for you to relax into any given moment and enjoy it? Dude, sometimes the answer is, “YES! I CANNOT RELAX UNTIL I HAVE CONTROL OVER EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE.” That’s okay too, we aren’t perfect, remember?
Also, stop comparing yourself to other people. I’m mostly saying that to myself as I’ve had to practice #latergram for a while. Take a breather from social media, step away from the never-ending stream of superficial messages that confirm you’re somehow falling behind.
You are not other people, you are yourself – with your own story. Your miserable and marvelous experiences, heartaches, dreams, and triumphs are uniquely your own. There is no real room for true, objective comparison when it comes to measuring our successes against the achievements of others, so allow yourself room to fail, learn, and grow.