Are you a perfectionist? Are you ever satisfied with what you’ve done? Do you tweak things constantly?
I struggle a lot with being an over-achieving perfectionist. I want things to look right, sound right, read right. I straighten pictures (and silverware). I “tweak” and “tweak” and if I didn’t have deadlines, I’d continue to “tweak” until the end result bore no resemblance to the original idea. (Been there, done that… I’m now working with my first draft instead of my fourth.)
So, why do we strive for perfectionism?
Deep down, it has its roots in insecurity. What we’re really saying through a “perfectionist” drive is it’s never good enough. For who? Who are we trying to impress? Our mother? Our friends? God?
Your mother probably doesn’t care, and your friends won’t notice. You can’t impress God since… well, not only did He create the entire universe He already knows everything you will ever accomplish. (That really kills the surprise, doesn’t it?)
The drive for perfectionism brings to surface our secret fears: if we’re not perfect, others won’t like us. If we’re perfect, we can avoid criticism! The good news is – we can stop trying to be perfect since we’ll never be perfect and neither will anything we create. The bad news is – no matter how good it is, someone is going to hate it. We can write, and rewrite, and rewrite it again, someone is still going to say the writing is terrible!
What does our perfectionism do to us? It makes us feel inadequate, frustrated, and stressed. Above all, we kick into a self-abusive routine of going over and beyond, of spending countless hours on something and having people not only not appreciate it, but fail to even notice.
Imagine if we spent 6 hours styling our new haircut and our hubby didn’t notice. What happens? We’d get ticked off. Why? Because we “wasted” all that time and effort for no benefit (gushing, admiration, and compliments). But hubby loves you whether your hair is styled or not! He’s just as happy with a ponytail! WE hold ourselves to a much higher standard than he does – and blame him for it.
We’re not victims of our perfectionism, we’re volunteers. WE chose to spend 6 hours styling our hair, or 6 months revising a book that was probably fine in the first place.
No one asks us to be perfect (if they do, they suck), but we resent them for not noticing how hard we try. Isn’t it easier (and less emotional) just to do our best, give it one go-over, and move on?
And now, I’m gonna post this so I don’t tweak it. 😉