For all my years in high school, I was determined to study music therapy. People told me theory would be hard and it takes a lot of practice. What they didn't tell me is I would become too hard on myself. So hard that I had perfectionist ideals.
For any music major, four semesters of music theory are required. Students study the mechanics of theory, and then they apply it to compositions. Composing a piece takes hours of dedicated work. I spent any time that I wasn't in class working on compositions for music theory class. I would write and edit over and over again until I had a finished product. When I had a finished product, I was thrilled about the composition I had made from scratch. The teacher would play it in class, classmates enjoyed it, but my heart broke when the grade didn't match my work ethic. B+ at best sometimes. It was infuriating. I looked at what I did wrong and how I could have improved my work, and sometimes fix it even after the assignment was completed. That started the perfectionist cycle.
Performing is an essential part of studying music. I loved my voice lessons because I was allowed to make mistakes and play. But, when I had to perform at the end of my semester to pass the program, I sought out perfection. I would walk out of the room livid that I didn't do it the way I had practiced. I would kick myself over the fact I missed a pronunciation or a dynamic, when, in fact, no one noticed.
I took this perfectionist ideal for my writing. Unless I didn't give a damn about the topic, my papers had to flawless. I tried to meet the professor's expectations. It was hard that what I deemed as a perfectly acceptable paper was not to the professor's standards. It wasn't about the letter grades anymore. It was about not being the best that I could be.
But I was. I passed all my composition assignments. People liked what I wrote. All my essays were still excellent compared to the grammar slacking people next to me. My performances were and still are memorable to so many people because I perform well. But that doesn't take away the fact that I seek out a perfectionist in myself. Even though I'm no longer a music major, I apply it to my everyday life, especially my job, and it makes functioning harder.
But if I weren't a perfectionist, I wouldn't have high expectations for myself. Those high expectations are why I do well at my jobs. They are why I perform well. They are why I succeed. Without it, I'd be lazy and wouldn't give a rat's ass about anything and wouldn't succeed. So while being a perfectionist drives nuts, I'm so grateful it makes me more driven than ever before.