Being a perfectionist is a struggle. But being a perfectionist in college is the ultimate struggle since most aspects of college will never be perfect, no matter how hard you try to make them. Most of the time we try to micro-manage everything and try to squeeze ourselves into boxes of “what we should be” rather than just be what we can be. However, at the end of the day, instead of focusing on what we cannot change, we must focus on what we can change and allow ourselves to move forward.
Here are some things that a perfectionist in college struggles with:
1. Receiving grades is a literal nightmare
You will freak out over an 89% on an exam because that grade is only 1% away from being an A and that 1% you lost is entirely due to your personal failures of not studying long enough or hard enough. Even if you got an A on that exam, you will wonder why you didn't get an A+.
2. Making the tiniest mistakes make you feel like you messed up big time
If you make a spelling error in pen, white out is never the solution because the color of the paper is completely different than the white out color and you hate seeing the mistakes you made in your notes. Therefore, the only realistic solution is to throw out the entire sheet of paper and start all over again.
3. Harshly criticizing yourself when it comes to your assignments
You are your own harshest critic to the point where you don’t embrace criticism from others — not necessarily because you can’t handle it, but because you knew about that issue a long time ago, and if you had the solution to the problem it would already be solved.
4. Always arriving early to classes and lectures
You chronically make sure you leave your dorm in time so that you are early for class, or at least right on time. Even though class never starts on time since everyone else is running at least five minutes late, you still choose to arrive early and sit there and calculate what you could be doing with all the time you wasted by arriving to class early.
5. Procrastinating for days
Even though procrastination is completely unavoidable, you still stress over it because you know that you require longer than most people to get every last detail right, and you can’t really afford any additional stalling. Actually, you may just be putting off your assignments because you’re afraid to finish them and have disappointing results.
6. Being extremely conscious of your deadlines
In the college world of deadlines and time constraints, you struggle to finish things when they’re due because you’d rather hand in things when they’re actually ready, no matter how long that takes. And nothing is ever actually ready.
7. Working on group projects raises your anxiety levels
Working on group projects is a nightmare of the highest degree. You don’t want other people’s work reflecting you. And you don’t look down on them — it’s just that your personal standards are a lot higher than most.
8. Living in a tiny room that seems to get messier the more you clean it
Living in a small box is bad enough, but it’s worse when you’re getting ready to go out or get ready for class because it seems like you’re living in piles and piles of clothes. And even if you clean your room every day, it will still never be clean enough.
9. Not having adequate amounts of time to do all the things on your “to-do” list for the day
You were told that college would allow you to have to much more free time than high school because you’re not restricted to classes eight hours per day. But you come to college, you realize that you have to schedule everything, like when you eat, when you do your laundry, when you study, when you go to work, and even when you should breathe.
10. Having friends who are more of a “go-with-the-flow” type who don’t feel the need to plan things out
Sometimes you wish you could be like other people and just not care so much. You’re proud of your accomplishments but you can’t just skip class for the day and go to the beach for a mental health day, or do other things you see your friends doing without an ounce of guilt and your brain reminding you of your lengthy to-do list.
11. Having slight panic attacks when you have a professor who isn’t organized because it makes you become disorganized
You thought that adults were supposed to be the meticulous ones?! You feel like you are being set up for failure by professors who don’t color code, alphabetize, or sort their things, because it causes you to become disorganized in turn.
12. Being told to “calm down,” “relax” or “shut up, you still did better than me”
You show your hideous alter ego when people tell you to “calm down” or “relax” because it’s just “one test.” Others might be okay with getting a B+ on a paper that they wrote an hour before class, but there is no way that you are okay with your A- that you spent weeks outlining. Comparing grades will only make you angrier.
13. Not being able to sleep because your mind is consumed with all of the things that still need to get done
Every night you lie wide awake in bed as your mind spins in circles over thinking about all of the work you have to do the next day and the day after that. In the end, it makes no sense because you are just exhausted the next day.
14. Pursuing something but being aware that you’ll likely never reach your goal because you haven’t ever felt like you’re there yet, wherever there is
Nothing will ever be how you imagine it. You just want everything to be perfect, but nothing ever is; coming to terms with that is the biggest struggle of all.