Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Perfectionism is such an interesting vice. It is one of those strength-weaknesses that you spout in an interview. Well you see, I am very detail-oriented which ensures high quality work, but sometimes I get caught up in wanting things to be perfect instead of moving on.

I often value perfectionism—I tell myself that it helps me strive toward being the best version of myself or doing my best work on a project. You know, if you are striving toward perfection then you’re trying your hardest. Sounds like a pretty rational thought process, right?

Today, I had a revelation that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Who knew it would be such a slippery slope.

When I take a look at nearly every stressor, relational argument, or self-criticism—they all revolve around perfection. I either expect perfection in others or myself and it is quite demoralizing on all accounts. I can never win in the game of perfection, and neither can anyone else for that matter. This is definitely something I have realized before on a smaller scale, but I am beginning to comprehend the negative attributes of perfectionism now more than ever.

I have all these expectations for people, which I think is a pretty normal thing…right? Expectations come from all sorts of places and they are okay to have as long as you cut people some slack when they don’t meet your every expectation. This is where the ugly perfectionism runs in to wreak havoc.

For instance, say I expect someone to arrive at 6:30. He said he would leave his house in a half hour, which would be around 6. Add about 20 minutes driving time (because I am feeling nice) and a few minutes for slack (feeling extra nice) and call it 6:30. You follow me? Then when said person arrives at 6:50—I can’t figure out what went wrong and feel frustrated. {I promise this scenario is hypothetical….ha…I wish}

When you tie perfectionism up with my love for planning, you get scenarios such as the above story quite often. I expect perfection according to my expectations. And goodness gracious—how incredibly ugly is that scenario? {Wouldn’t you all just love to date me? Sounds fun, right?}

Lately, I have been feeling like nothing is happening according to plan—jobs, health, relationships, living situations, car problems, dinner menus, baked goods, arrival times, and everything else under the sun (or more like under the clouds because we don’t get sun in Seattle). I can handle one or two things, but am feeling a big overwhelmed over here. I hit a wall yesterday wondering when it was going to stop. All I wanted was a rejuvenating summer, but the lemons just keep coming. I knew this was a perspective problem. I had to be positive in order to come out on top, but had no idea how I would muster the motivation to snap into positive land just one more time. The idea of it feels exhausting in and of itself.

I finally realized this morning that I am expecting my definition of perfection in every aspect of my life, which is slowly but surely tearing me down. The joke is on me--it is my own perspective that is eating me alive, not all of life's stressors. That is something I can definitely handle.

This has been eating at me for a while. I have always wanted to be a more easy going person, but could never figure out how to grasp that perspective. I think I found the path toward that today. I am going to slowly but steadily begin to accept the perspective that things will fall where they may and I need to take it all in stride. Sounds simple enough, but I am well aware it is an uphill battle slashing out perfectionism. Nonetheless, I am excited and hopeful.

Except for the fact that I probably won’t do this perfectly either. Darn it.

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