My name is Chandni Shroff, and I'm a recovering perfectionist. My entire life, I've been too hard on myself. It is not pressure from my family, friends or fellow peers that drives this ambition for success. Instead, it's a forced internal demand that incites this desire to be impeccable in every aspect of life.
I admit it -- I can be a somewhat of a control freak. But there is a difference between wanting to be in charge of a situation and in choosing to opt out of an opportunity due to perceived social pressures and performance anxiety. The feeling of failure can be so debilitating, and the notion that your best efforts may be too poor to showcase in public can have a detrimental effect on one's self-image. An important thing to realize is that the definition of failure is quite skewed in the mind of a perfectionist. For most people, success lies on a spectrum, and the terms poor, good, decent and great all have a different meaning. For a perfectionist, failure is anything below excellent. If it does not match the narrow set of ideal standards in their mind, then it is simply not good enough.
My perfectionism manifests itself in a dynamic manner. On one hand, I get anxiety in regards to performing tasks -- they must be completed in an impeccable fashion. However, it also presents the illusion that no task is too difficult, daunting or demanding. With every successful accomplishment, a perfectionist fools themselves into thinking they have an intrinsic ability to succeed. That's the thing about perfectionism: it always seems like it is within reach. My mind has tricked me into thinking I need to get the best grades, most awards, and highest honors; it is a vicious cycle that results in a spiral of anxiety, self-doubt and frustration when I fall short of these idealistic standards.
Striving for perfection is incapacitating, rarely attainable, and disheartening.
A perfectionist constantly compares themselves to others, works relentlessly to the core, and beats themselves up incessantly. Regardless of how well a situation may have gone, a perfectionist will constantly brood over what they could have done better.
The more I strive to be perfect, the less happy I become.
It's taken me a long time to come to the place I am now. I finally recognize that my issues of perfection stem from my mentality. Tendencies regarding perfection are driven by fear: fear of failure, fear of being judged. I know that it's going to be a struggle. Every single day I have to remind myself that it's OK not to be perfect. I'm working to change my outlook so that I can accept my flaws and become a better, happier version of the person I am. To anyone else struggling with perfectionism, here's my advice:
Strive for progress, rather than impeccability. Embrace your creativity and allow yourself to have new experiences. Let go of the need to be perfect and just be. Be kind to yourself, and be proud of who you are. Picture-perfect is just that: an illusion.