In this article, I will be talking about Perfectionism, an issue I struggled with for years, and how I finally overcame it.
What Is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism can be considered a personality trait characterized by a person`s intense striving for perfection. This is accompanied by critical self-evaluations usually based on other people’s evaluations or standards.
You’d get to understand this better as you read along.
What Is The Root Cause Of Perfectionism?
After reading some papers about perfectionists and perfectionism, I understood one of the core reasons could be “childbirth order”.
It made sense: As the first child of the family, I got stricter rules from my parents. I had to get perfect marks in all of the school lessons and keep my room always tidy (which was pretty difficult for me because I loved making handicrafts with dispensable materials!).
Moreover, It was my duty to take care of my little brother when my mum was away (back then she was still in the university).
Even when we (my brother and I) were arguing, my parents would usually say things like, “ you are older, you should be wiser! “
I was expected to be better. No; I was expected to be the best.
Like many other girls, I was scared of making any mistake.
And when I got into the university, this fear heightened, because I was now comparing myself to my male colleagues: “why do they know how to code, but I don’t?”, “Why do they have their own businesses, but I don’t”, and on and on I went.
I was “obsessed” with being better than everyone I encountered (especially when we were within the same level)
These comparisons and competitions motivated me to push myself – to learn those skills they had. In a sense, it helped me
But there was still an issue: the way I was going about the whole thing was unhealthy
How Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Life And Stealing Your Happiness:
This video (http://t.ted.com/9cbELFe ), of boys and girls struggling with #java struck me;
Notice: when the boys encountered a bug, they said: “Professor, there’s something wrong with my code!”. On the other hand, the girls said: “Professor, there is something wrong with me!”
The lecturer concluded that “we’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave.” and I couldn’t agree any less.
In a sense, the guys were comfortable with themselves (they saw themselves as “perfect”) so any issue must be coming from the Code. whilst the girls deep down felt like something was lacking in (or wrong with) them, so the issue was interpreted to come from them.
The Perfectionists strive for “perfection” only reminds them of their “imperfections”. This results in a vicious circle of unhappiness since no one can do everything perfectly.
Although it may sound exaggerated, perfectionistic tendencies predict issues like depression, anxiety, and stress in the long term.
Hence, it is important to learn to break the pattern
How Can I Free Myself From Perfectionism?
Realizing the problem with perfectionism, I strived to get comfortable with my imperfections and in the process built some helpful techniques.
Below are some of those techniques:
#1 Allow Yourself To Make Mistakes:
To be honest, I was not ok with messing up, and I used to overanalyze a mistake for hours and sometimes even days!
I was pretty strict with the kid in myself (I call her Medi); whenever she got less than an “A” in a course, I ignored all of her prowess and stressed the mistake.
But by learning self-compassion and self-love, I finally was able to be less hard on myself. I even created some funny rules while doing different tasks: E.g., I asked Medi not to look at the book when describing relationships in physics; even if an unrelated formula came to mind, just write it down, I encouraged.
I thought Medi that it was okay to make mistakes. I told her
- Do not use rubber while painting: Let your soul draw whatever she likes. (interestingly, the paintings I have done without using rubber became more attractive than those I forced myself to copy from scratch)
- Do not delete your posts on social media: People will judge you in any case. Keep calm and keep going forward.
You can adapt these rules for yourself as a graphic designer, programmer, photographer, content creator, or whatever.
Allow yourself to make mistakes, then improve from there
#2 Focus On The Positives
No need to explain
#3 Change Your Style!
It may seem strange, but this strategy helped me love Medi more! I changed my hair color from black to red for the first time and didn’t care that some people started to call me Anne Shirley!
Last year, I met a professor from England who dyed her hair blue. I had always seen professors with their professional-looking pictures so I didn’t expect that. But, after a while of listening to and observing her, I realized her character was as interesting as her unique style.
She didn’t need to look professional; she was awesome because she was being her unique self.
By embracing your unique self and style, you break free from the need to be “perfect” according to some standards set by others.
Like the boys, you won’t say “…there is something wrong with me”, rather you’d say, “…there is something wrong with the Code”.
Break Free: Slam The Door At Perfectionism And Don’t Look Back
My favorite animation is Frozen; I recorded the musical part and regularly listened to it. It reminds me to let go of perfectionism
Here’s my favorite verse:
“Don’t let them in
Don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Don’t let them know…
Well, now they know!
Let it go, let it go.
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!”
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