Before we get this started I’m going to very honest. This is not meant to be a negative post, or to complain about traits that i carry, but rather to explain certain unhealthy habits being a perfectionist. I love being a perfectionist honestly. I love making things look beautiful and I love taking the time to think about the small, intricate details. But I’ve noticed that there are some things that I want to change in order for it to be healthy, and I always love to spark conversation with you guys.
For those of you who know me there are two facts that are basic knowledge. I hate reading and I’m a perfectionist to the max. However, recently I’ve been reading this book by Donald Miller called Scary Close.
The basis of it is learning how to not perform for validation and just be real with people. He touches the topic of perfectionism and how it has a major role in performance, and not just for other people but putting on a show for ourselves as well. Now listen, I’m not saying being a perfectionist is a bad trait to have or anything of that sort, but sometimes we take it farther than necessary, am I right?
There are many things I’ve realized about myself reading this book, but this is the main one —
If I have an idea, whether it be a creative or personal one, and I don’t think I can achieve it to the extension in my mind, I quit before I even start.
Sometimes it’s fear. Sometimes it’s insecurity. And sometimes you just have a specific expectation that you don’t feel you can achieve. In the book Miller says, “The reason I don’t like exercise is because somewhere, in the deep recesses of my brain I’ve become convinced no amount of work is enough” (pg 43). And that hit me like a ton of bricks. If you’ve already convinced yourself that nothing you do will measure up what’s the point in trying?
“I used to mow my lawn then crawl around on the grass with a pair of scissors cutting the uneven blades of grass . . . There are really only two things a person can do when they’re that much of a perfectionist. They can either live in the torture and push themselves to excel, or they can quit” (pg 43)
I never understood before why I quit things so easily, like working out or pursuing fashion and music, until I read that statement. Like many of you, I have a person in my mind that I picture so vividly that I aspire to be. A woman that’s strong and doesn’t take no for an answer. She’s kind but brave and isn’t afraid of failure or opinions. She’s a badass honestly. And my only thought process is that maybe I don’t have what it takes to become her. So I quit. Without even starting the improvement process. And that’s really quite sad when you think about the depths of it. That we the perfectionists would hinder our own futures, our own ideas, our own success, for the simple fact that we have become convinced that no amount of work is enough.
The truth is that no matter how hard we try we will never reach a level of perfection. We’re human, and we’re flawed. Which is actually really beautiful because if we weren’t the world would be pretty boring. You and I have to give ourselves some grace every once in a while you know? Whether we reach the exact expectations in our minds or not, isn’t it worth it to try? We the perfectionists are amazing people. But we got some stuff to work on too. So I propose the idea that paying close attention to detail is not a flaw, but it does become unhealthy when we bet our entire lives on whether or not it exceeds our standards.
Lighten up a little, yeah? ;) But you can go fix that crooked frame on the wall if you want. I know it’s been bugging you this whole time.