Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been a perfectionist. Whether it was endlessly practicing the dance choreography I learnt during classes until I could do every move perfectly, or studying maths equations for hours on end until I could get every question right – I’ve always felt an urgent need to perform perfectly.
From the outside, being a perfectionist can look like such a blessing. To most people, my endless work ethic and dedication to perfection might be enviable, but in reality it can be incredibly crippling. When I say I’m a perfectionist I really mean it. As in, I can’t just enjoy my hobbies or work, I have to be the best at them. When I was younger, this meant quitting my position as a dancer with a musical theatre team because I wasn’t the best dancer on the squad or not even auditioning for the yearly musical at school because I felt the other girl’s in my year were far better singers than I was and I couldn’t face the potential rejection of not being cast.
The truth is, being a perfectionist makes doing things ‘just for the fun of it’ incredibly difficult. If I’m in an exercise class, I have to pick up the moves quickly, and execute them flawlessly or I feel like a failure and I’ll inevitably stop going to the class. If I’m taking photos for Instagram, I want them to be exactly as I envisioned and if they’re not (or, as usually happens in the UK, the weather isn’t great) it makes me want to abandon my account and I’ll feel low.
I wish I didn’t care so much about how well I did things, I wish I could just relax and enjoy myself sometimes without caring about if it’s a success or not. Being a perfectionist can be crippling sometimes, to the point where I wish it wasn’t a personality trait of mine. So yeah, as enviable being a perfectionist can seem, when it comes to most things it’s not. So next time you find yourself comparing your drive and ambition to that girl you work with who seems to excel at everything, just remember she may not be having as great a time as it seems!