Don't Let Being Perfect Stop You From Being Fantastic
Start writing a post

Don't Let Being Perfect Stop You From Being Fantastic

The damaging effects of perfectionism

Don't Let Being Perfect Stop You From Being Fantastic

I used to be proud to call myself a perfectionist. Shouldn’t that be a good thing? Striving to do well and create content that’s as good as it can possibly be? Being a perfectionist is often touted in job interviews as a benefit: “I’m organized, detail-oriented, and a perfectionist.” Granted, these traits are good tools for any career. As a scientist, being organized and paying attention to details is essential for good science, and these behaviors have served me well over the years. However, all those years of conditioning myself with perfectionism came with dire consequences.

Sometimes perfectionism manifests itself in small ways, such as toying with the wording of an email to send to your boss, but when it takes an hour to send an email or you spend too much time ruminating over assignments with pressing deadlines, it becomes a serious problem.

While perfectionism may appear to be something to strive for, it also has a dark side. When you’re in a constant state of comparing yourself to others and setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, you burn out extremely fast. Burnout does not mean simply being tired after one tough day. Burnout has debilitating symptoms such as emotional exhaustion, depersonalized attitude, and low levels of personal accomplishment. The link between perfectionism and burnout isn’t merely anecdotal. A recent study demonstrated that perfectionism exhibited across multiple life domains (work, sports, education) fueled the progression of burnout symptoms. Not only do other people expect perfection of us, we demand perfection of ourselves, and that combination can be particularly dangerous.

“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order”—Anne Wilson Shaef, author.

I never experienced perfectionism to such damaging extent when I was an undergraduate student. I was driven to produce my best work, but I knew that at the end of the day, that work was an assignment that twenty other people were also attempting to complete. I was going to be fine. The dangers of perfectionism only became real to me when it came to my research projects that I was personally invested in. I thought that those projects represented me. I began to think that my work was a reflection of myself. I was pouring my heart and soul into it, so how could it not be?

But I ultimately realized that I am so much more than the content I produce. I consist of all the experiences and memories of only me. There’s no possible way that any one project or assignment can embody all of what makes me. There will always be a product of circumstance, lack of sleep, stress, etc., that will get in the way of perfection.

"Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another"--Jane Austen, author.

I will no longer let “being perfect” get in the way of producing good content. The actual worst-case scenario is letting the fear of imperfection stop me. By changing my expectations and giving myself more time to complete tasks, I can make “good enough” the new perfect. While I don’t see myself intentionally underachieving on an important task, I will instead re-define what perfect is.

Now, being perfect means that instead of not writing a sentence because I can’t think of the exact words, I just write something and edit it later. Being perfect means increasing efficiency by pooling together resources and delegating tasks to others with expertise, instead of taking on everything myself. Being perfect means not judging myself and instead give myself the freedom to make errors so that I can eventually reach “good enough.”

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less

Unlocking Lake People's Secrets: 15 Must-Knows!

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.

Group of joyful friends sitting in a boat
Haley Harvey

The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people.

Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments