It’s been too long since I’ve blogged. I know. There’s a reason behind why I haven’t – I mean, there’s always reason behind why everyone does anything.

My reason can be summed up into one word: perfectionism.

I’ve struggled with perfectionism all my life, but I didn’t know it had a name until I read about it in my Grade 11 IAPS textbook (IAPS is short for Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology).

I remember that moment so clearly. It was 11 at night, and I was doing my readings for class the following day. I had just discovered that I could multi-task by biking on a stationary bike while studying, and so I sat on my bike, peddling away while I read about the psychology of nature versus nurture. In between the pages of the assigned reading, there were two pages on perfectionism. The concept had always intrigued me, so I began to read about it despite it not being assigned.

Upon reading the first sentence, every single word, as they formed into cohesive phrases, clicked in my head. I felt myself nodding to the heavy truth in each sentence. The section on perfectionism was no longer than a few paragraphs in this textbook chockfull of complex concepts and information…but in my head, it finally made sense why I acted the way I did.

 

The short textbook definition of perfectionism explained to me why I procrastinated a lot of the time, why I was always disappointed in myself, and why I couldn’t focus on an assignment when there were so many other unfinished tasks and assignments nipping away at me. The textbook didn’t state being a perfectionist was a bad thing necessarily, but did point out that there were aspects in this personality trait that, when full-blown, could negatively impact the person with it.

That night, I not only found a new way I could multi-task, but why I needed to multi-task in the first place. That year I wanted to be the most perfect version of myself that I could be. So to achieve this, I had signed away my life to several committees, two leadership positions, a part-time job, two sport teams, and nine academically-sternuous courses. Let’s just say my mental health deteriorated quite quickly with each passing day…but that’s a story for another blog post.

Since realizing what perfectionism was; and that I am a perfectionist; I’ve been able to clearly identify this pattern of control as I thought back to my childhood. This fear of not being good enough crippled my sense of self-worth and left me to put off doing things. And as I traced and reflected back on the moments, choices, and decisions in my life, I couldn’t help but notice so many of my actions stemmed from the fear of being imperfect.

That time (or those several times…) I handed my art assignment or essay in late? It was because I took too long to complete it, and wasn’t happy with it. If I was going to do something, it needed to be what I deemed perfect from the get-go; the moment I started it.

The time I stayed up reorganizing and purging my entire closet by colour, shade, material, and length? It was because I couldn’t sleep soundly until I did.

That time I gave up on a creative idea before I even started brainstorming more on it? It was because I believed I couldn’t do it the right way – my right way.

Now regarding the blog: thank you for reading about me and for reading the things I write. I’m always grateful that people are actually interested. Any creative person who puts their mind into creating their medium couldn’t ask for more, and I am the same.

I have to ask you to forgive me for not blogging regularly; I’m working on it. I don’t want this perfectionistic part of me to negatively dictate my life. The first step to resolving this is by realizing that it’s a part what makes me, me, and not try to reject it with all my willpower. Rather, embracing it and working with it.

If you’re a perfectionist as well, I’d truly love to hear about how you deal with it. I write ‘deal with it’ under the presumption perfectionism is a bad thing – which, to me, is what it mostly takes shape into. Maybe for you, you have naturally or learned to take this part of you and use it to your benefit.

Or is it all a matter of perspective?