I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist because I am a flawed, obviously imperfect, person. However, the more I learn about perfectionist traits, the more bummed and concerned I become. A recent Ted Talk by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, discussed how girls are taught perfection while boys are encouraged to be brave (watch it here). It made me think about how I often avoid things I am not going to excel at. Not great, Ber.
The more I realize I have perfectionist traits, the more I think about it. As someone who overthinks things, these moments have brought up some salient themes:
1) I tend to identify with perfectionists in film/TV
Leslie Knope is my spirit animal. She would rather pull an all-nighter to accomplish a task instead of risking failure. I love her. I am her. And it makes me SUPER happy when she cuts loose (yes, I know she isn’t real. But she sort of is…).
Movies like Black Swan and Whiplash make me anxious. I realize they are intended to make EVERYONE anxious. However, I find myself over empathizing with the characters. I understand why they are motivated to improve. These movies are frustrating because, in spite of their pain, these masochistic characters master their craft at the end of the film (side bar- there’s a lot of parallels in Whiplash and Black Swan, which can be seen here).
2) I avoid things I am not good at
This is a legit perfectionist trait and I excel at it. Luckily, my ego and grit allow me to persevere through challenging coursework at school. However, it has stopped me from running consistently for oooooh…. a decade. Yep. George W. was president when I ran/walked my first 5K. I have yet to run a full 5K. I will, though. This madness stops now.
3) It is hard to communicate my issues due to perfectionism to others
My perfectionist tendencies cause me to panic if I make a mistake. This can be suuuuuuper annoying to anyone who has to deal with me as I fix a mistake I’ve made. I know it. I truly want to be the best at everything for everyone and that is impossible. I’m working on it. When I make a small mistake it can feel like a huge disaster that replays in my head for days. It is exhausting.
Another side-effect of perfectionism is an obvious lack of chill. I am literally scheduling time to chill this semester, which is the craziest thing I have ever heard. However, I need it. Chill hobbies include hanging with my faves, running, working out, crafting, and baking.
I am sure being my hubster/friend/family is difficult at times. Perfectionism is something that people say as a humble-brag. It really isn’t something to brag about. Perfectionism is more of a nervous tick that makes silly tasks seem urgent and small mistakes seem indelible. Not amazing.
Since I am aware of the annoying parts of being a perfectionist, I have been working to correct them. Over time these thoughts are easier to identify and I am more likely to self-correct and be more rational. However, this is not a perfect system (there’s that word again). The best I can do is stay aware and accept when things do not go as planned. Stick with me, pals. I’m trying.
And when I am cray? I gotta be me. I am sorry if it is annoying, but…