So what is perfectionism?
I’m not a perfectionist expert or anything but for me, ‘perfectionism’ is wanting achievement and the constant need to strive. Always looking at flaws and attempting to improve to be one step closer to ‘perfection’ and success. But it does have a downside and this will be talked about in the next paragraph...
The downside of perfectionism and where it all peaked…
I’ve always felt the ongoing urge to achieve, to counteract the inadequacy I get from doing something unproductive. Take today for example, it’s my first day after exams and inadequacy levels are on the rise. Today I made a smoothie bowl, bliss balls, watched tv, danced a hella lot around my room (Mamma Mia represent) and the fact that ultimately, I have done nothing successful makes me anxious about the time I’m wasting… I guess my perfectionist thoughts definitely peaked in highschool and here’s why… In high school, you’re defined by a percentage (well that’s how I felt anyway). Teachers praise you for higher marks, our school principal favoured you if you scored in the 90’s and the quickest path to a white collar job requires you to get a good ATAR. There’s nothing wrong with being intellectually studious (as it’s something I value and have always strived for), but when it comes to the point when your mood is dependent on a percentage on a test or you’re constantly putting yourself down and looking for improvements then perfectionism consumes you. It takes out the happy and replaces it with flaws, inadequacy and leads to a constant stream of comparisons between yourself and those who are ‘perfect’. And that’s what it did to me. But it didn’t stop with school. It moved to aesthetics too. I used to exercise a lot for the wrong reasons and ate what I thought was ‘healthy’ in order to achieve a ‘perfect body’ as I thought that would make me happy, rid the inadequacy and make me feel valued. I was wrong. You see, when your mind is so used to thinking about how you can be more and better yourself, it never stops with the improvement contemplation. The inadequacy lingered and I was lost in a world imperfection, constantly striving and seeing average or mediocre as ‘failure’.
Here’s a quick poem I wrote which is more vivid way of explaining how it feels to be consumed by perfectionism…
you’re in a bubble,
success on the outside,
you can see it, but you’re not quite there,
you poke, prod and bang on the bubble wall, wanting to leech out,
only to realise that the bubble is not a bubble at all,
it’s not made of breakable liquid, it’s not bendy and pokeable,
it’s in fact a sphere with clear walls strong as steel,
you wait inside the bubble, awaiting in fear for your release
Escaping the bubble
I wish I could tell you how to escape this mentality. I promise, I’d tell you if I knew. But there are a few ways of thinking that assist me and I hope they’d be of some help towards you…
You’re more than a percentage or aesthetics, you’re far from a pile of imperfections and there is no such thing as ‘perfect’. We’re all different for a reason, each with our own unique gifts to offer. Show the world your talents, explore your passions and let the inner you shine.
Change your perspective - ‘perfection’ does not mean happiness
There’s the misconception that if you achieve, improve your flaws and ultimately be the epitome of ‘perfection’ then you will be happy. Perfection is non-existent and therefore unattainable. Happiness doesn’t occur through having more - look at celebrities for example, who have have fame and fortune and yet, Hollywood is a haven of drugs, alcohol abuse and god knows what else… If you’re worried about academics, remember; your worth is not defined by a number and there are so many significant things in your life than what you got on that phythag test in year nine. If you’re obsessed with aesthetics … will my aesthetics make me happy? Think of people who are deemed beautiful by society - Cara Delivgine for example, experienced depression and more recently, Essena O’Neill faced insecurities because of societal standards of aesthetics.
Happiness is not associated with being one step closer to perfection or who you will become or what you will have, it’s a feeling within you, something that is attainable right now.
And lastly, If you have any ideas, thoughts or ways of escaping the traps of perfectionsm, comment below and we can discuss ways on escaping the bubble :)
Also, check out my new 'Wellness' section which can be found here