I wouldn’t define myself as a perfectionist. I never felt the need to do anything “perfectly”. Not in school, work or in my relationships.
Everything changed when I learned that being a perfectionist has more to do with avoiding something for fear of not being good enough, or that it might difficult.
It was much easier for me to not try, then to try and fail. It’s been noted that the fear of failure defines perfectionism. Procrastination, which is the art of putting things off, is another component of perfectionism. It can be used as a tool to avoid the fear, shame, and guilt of not doing something perfectly.
I can vividly remember feeling depressed because I was avoiding jobs and interests. Yet, I did not understand the underlying issue that was creating this avoidance. For as long as I can remember, I always loved makeup but never had the courage to admit that I wanted to attend Cosmetology school. I was ashamed and didn’t have the tools to realize that this was a direct result of my fear. Instead, I chose a path that was not my preference. Fortunately, this initial path lead to high levels of education that I can know utilize in my writing. After many years of self-reflection, I applied to Esthetician school and completed a year and a half program to receive my license. The moment I walked into the Beauty School, my fear and anxiety disappeared. This was truly one of my biggest accomplishments. It provided me with a level of confidence that I never imagined.
There were many other instances that my perfectionist personality interfered with my life. However, recognizing this trait, and knowing that it is completely fear based rather than reality, has motivated me to strive for more. Not trying or giving up because something is perceived as difficult is not an option. In fact, it’s a motivational force to explore new curiosities.
Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, explains that cultivating self-compassion and letting go of perfectionism will create a whole-hearted life. We must stop beating ourselves up for having doubt.
We need to encourage ourselves as we would a good friend. I can’t imagine telling a loved one that they are not good enough to succeed or that they shouldn’t try new things.
It’s been said that perfectionism is a tool used to protect ourselves from getting hurt. However, the reality is that perfectionism, in any form, can also lead to hurt and destruction.
Not allowing this irrational fear to stop me has lead to many new experiences and interests. One of which is writing, something that I never thought I would attempt or be good enough to complete. I’ve learned that it takes courage, tenacity, practice and positive self-talk to break down the fear of failure.
Every day and moment that you face your fear is a step toward self-love and self-worth. If we are compassionate with ourselves, we have the ability to overcome any obstacle. Even if the obstacle is self-induced.
Am I cured from perfectionism? No. Do I have days that I beat myself up because I am scared that I am not good enough? Yep.The good news is that I know this fear and anxiety is irrational. I am not in danger, no one is chasing me and I am not being threatened. Perfectionism is not real! It is created by our inner critic and, possibly, an excuse not to try.