it wasn’t me that initially realised that I was a perfectionist. it was at the age of 7, when I was in year 3. that my teacher told my mum I was a perfectionist. the reason being that we had been asked to draw our favourite book character for world book day, and I had spent at least 6 hours the night before tracing and trying to draw the cover of the book: Ruby the Red Fairy. I couldn’t get it exactly right, no matter how much I tried. it didn’t look right and I hated it. no matter how many times I was told by my teacher, my friends or my family that my drawing looked good, I just wouldn’t accept it. I didn’t like it, because it wasn’t perfect and it didn’t look how I wanted it to look; it didn’t look exactly like the book cover.
it may seem silly to you, but it was big deal, and it still is. perfectionism is something that has stunted me growing, and it has ruined a lot of opportunities and normal everyday processes for me. it does have a bonus though, in it being the reason as to why I succeed academically, why I achieved 1 Pass, 2 Distinctions and 5 Merits for my graded Piano exams, and in getting my art, photography and writing exactly as I want them to be. I am a perfectionist, and it fuels my very being.
the only problem is that the very thing that helps me flourish and grow, is the thing that also stops me growing and can stunt me for long periods of time. it’s very common that along with perfectionism, comes procrastination. my dear, dear friend. today, has been a prime example of what happens:
- I plan my day the day before
- I am incredibly determined to get every single thing on my list done
- I wake up the next day, look at my list and decide that I can’t do it up to the standard that I want.
- so, I just don’t do it
- and there goes by another day.
it’s a problem. it’s a really big one. I find with myself and other fellow perfectionists, that it’s either all or nothing. there is no in between – either, I do everything to my best ability and up to my standards, or I just don’t do it because I don’t think that I’ll be able to get it to be or look exactly as I want it.
the only problem, is that I’ve been stuck in the procrastination stage for a while now. I deemed my self a failure over summer 2016, and I’ve been stuck in limbo since then. my thoughts being “since I failed, and didn’t do anything up to the standards I wanted to, nothing has gone to plan, I don’t feel anything else will. so, I’m just not going to do it, until I feel like I’m at the stage where I definitely can.”
there is a MASSIVE PROBLEM WITH THIS. it’s left me stagnant, and I have been unable to move forward with life, everything has been stuck on repeat and it’s frustrating, and stressful. I’ve become comfortable, with where I am, and it sucks.
so, here’s where I’m going with this – from a fellow perfectionist to another:
- just do it.
just get it done. that thing that you think won’t be perfect, and you haven’t got the energy or effort to do it: just get it done. it’s as simple as that. I’ll challenge both of us, and I’ll come back in a month’s time and update you on my progress. I’ve realised that when I have a routine, and I practice discipline, it overrides my perfectionism (and depression) and it gives room for me to grow, and not be so focused and fussed on the little things. for me to get where I want to be, I need to be putting my all into everything that I do, whether I feel I can do it perfectly or not. some things just can’t be perfect, and that’s ok. I’m learning to acknowledge and accept that, and just be and move on with life.
things take a lot of time and effort, life is effort. but, the main thing I’ve taken from this very dry and stagnant season is that: I can’t fix everything, I can’t please everyone and failing doesn’t make me a failure. I just need to show up, for myself every single day and just start where I can. to just be and focus on one thing at a time in that moment. and, if it turns out perfect or not, I still did it. I still showed up – and that’s something. at least I got something done, and I gave it my best shot. that’s what matters the most.
show up for yourself, every single day. not everything has to be done at once, not everything you do will turn out perfect – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good, and it doesn’t make you a failure. show up, start where you can and see where you go from there – that’s what’s most important.
just show up.