OK, I will admit it, I am a perfectionist.
According to the Centre for Clinical Interventions, the definition of perfectionism can be split into 3 parts:
"The relentless striving for extremely high standards."
"Judging your self worth largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards."
"Experiencing negative consequences of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to go for them despite the huge costs to you."
I always knew I was a perfectionist, but before writing this article I wanted to make sure I was 'self-diagnosing' myself correctly. I always had a general idea of the definition of a perfectionist but I did my research before writing this article. While I was researching, I found many of the qualities very very fitting. I said to myself "Geez, this website describes me to a tee, this must not be reliable." I would then look at different sites and found the same, if not similar information. Well crap, I guess it's official now. (Disclaimer: self-diagnosing is not suggested (although we all are guilty of it), always see a doctor or a professional when it comes to things like this.)
As a perfectionist, I have incredibly high standards for myself. If I do not reach these standards, I am often left feeling worthless. I have especially high standards when it comes to my school work. I want to be the best at what I am studying. I put my all into everything, and I enjoy challenging myself. When you challenge yourself, you need to learn your limit. As a perfectionist, it is hard to accept your limit and your weaknesses. In college, thankfully I learned my limit quite early in the game. I learned it the hard way, but at least I learned it.
When a perfectionist gets feedback, they could get a majority of positive feedback, but they will focus on the one minor negative comment and overanalyze it. They will beat themselves up over one small negative comment, no matter how many positive comments they receive. I am guilty of this. When it comes to my school work especially, I always focus on my negative comments over the positive ones. When I complete a task, I put 100% into it, I do not 'half-ass' anything. Some may think this is a good thing, but let me tell you, it is very time-consuming and exhausting. It is hard for me to accept a low grade. Some things are just very difficult and it is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that it's okay not to get A's in everything.
This is one of my biggest flaws and something I struggle with every day. I struggle with accepting anything below my standard. If I achieve my standard, I often think about what I could've done to go beyond that. The cycle never ends.
The Centre for Clinical Interventions, lists the following as the positive qualities about being a perfectionist:
I like to do things well.
I get pleasure out of achieving what others can’t do. It makes me feel special.
I like to go to bed leaving no tasks undone.
I get satisfaction knowing I’ve tried my hardest.
I like being top of the class.
I like being efficient.
I like being organized.
I like being prepared for every event.
I never lose anything because I’m so well organized.
But then, The Centre for Clinical Interventions, lists these as negative qualities:
I have no free time.
No achievement is ever enough.
I blame myself if things aren’t done just right.
I can’t stand it when other people don’t do things my way.
I don’t trust others to do as good a job as I do so I end up doing it. I have to go over my work many times until it’s acceptable to me.
I have to do more and more in order to feel accepted by others.
I’m so afraid of failing that I never get started.
I have not found the perfect solution to this flaw, and it is something that I work on every day. I have learned that acceptance is key. Acceptance is difficult, but not impossible.
For all you perfectionists out there, it will be okay, you are not alone. I am right there with you struggling for self-acceptance.