Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. It is best conceptualized as a multidimensional characteristic, as psychologists agree that there are many positive and negative aspects. In its maladaptive form, perfectionism drives people to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal, and their adaptive perfectionism can sometimes motivate them to reach their goals. In the end, they derive pleasure from doing so. When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they often fall into depression.
– culled from http://www.wikipedia.com
Half of me is an idealist. Everything must be perfect, colourful, vivid. Things are said and done right and everyone is happy, happy, happy. The picture is intact, no mistakes, no errors, no excuses.
The other half is a realist. Nothing is right, which is the way its meant to be. There are mistakes and tears and cracks, but there is always the strength to bear them. It’s sometimes quiet and dull, but never mind, I am content with that.
These two halves of me are constantly at war. I really, really REALLY want everything to meet certain self-made or assumed expectations and when I don’t, I beat myself up for the error or the inability to do so. I know exactly what I’m doing, but it’s hard to stop.
For example, I was asked at a seminar to give a one liner on what I’d learnt in that session. My notebook was right in front of me and I saw lots of one-liners, but some part of me felt those were not good enough and the speaker probably wanted to hear something that was more intellectual. I ended up saying probably 5 sentences and not making sense at all (I think). Feeling that I must have missed the mark, it ruined the better part of my day and for the rest of that seminar I mentally beat myself up for that mistake. Believe it or not, I’m not over it, despite trying to talk myself out of the embarrassment I felt.
This was a week ago. Just yesterday I noticed that a dedicated reader of my blog had made a comment. While I made a mental note to reply, I decided to read the post again and found a typo. I cringed in horror.
Realist: “Yawn”. It’s nothing. You always make typos”
Idealist: “Exactly! That’s why I read the post like umpteen times before posting! How could I have missed that?”
Realist: “Don’t be too hard on yourself, remember you were busy at work, were travelling the next day and probably didn’t have enough time to be thorough. I think you did good, having time to post at all.”
Idealist: “Precisely why I think you shouldn’t write until you have enough time to think your thoughts through! Plus I told you that hair post was dumb anyways.”
Realist: “All my posts are dumb to you. I need to keep writing for sanity’s…”
Idealist: “Oh shut up!”
Yes, that was me, just yesterday. I edited the post but I’m yet to get over what she will think of my poor grammar and proof reading abilities.
The struggle to be perfect and the coming to terms with the fact that I can never be is mentally painful and draining. There are times when I am able to deal with HUGE issues and not lose sweat over it and then I can actually lose sleep over something very petty. The point of imbalance is unclear but I know it exists somewhere in my head.
One of the reasons why I stopped singing was because I never felt good enough or as good as I wanted to sound in my head. I have only just gotten over it, which is why I have been able to produce 3 tracks in the past 2 years. I don’t like the way I sound over a recording, even though I don’t really know how else I should sound – just not like me. Like I said, I am getting over it. This is also the reason why, when I was planning concerts in the past, the relief and feeling of accomplishment only came because people said they had fun, not because I thought it was what I really wanted it to be.
I am a failed perfectionist. I know I will never achieve that picture perfect outcome I always envision about myself in my mind. I know I will never be mentally and intellectually, spiritually, socially or physically 100 percent. I will keep trying though, even if have to bleed myself to get there.
Resource: Help for perfectionists
all images sourced from http://www.google.com