The Poisonous Pursuit of Perfection

“Nobody’s perfect” is such bullshit. I know quite a few people who are perfect; perfect jobs, perfect relationships, perfect bodies, perfect lives. The thing I don’t see is how achieving perfection affects them. I’m a perfectionist, I don’t like putting things out that haven’t lived up to my colossal standards, and that holds me back greatly, and I assume it’s the same for those people. My problem is that if something isn’t “perfect”, I’ll pick it apart until it’s completely different from what I started with. Then I start to think “You fucked it up, run it again.” That starts a cycle of edits and self-doubt that lasts until I either get angry and quit, or create something I think is great.

Perfection is such a shit concept. The idea that something can be so good that nothing can change it for the better is such a toxic idea. I’ve had nights where I couldn’t sleep because I had a test a week later, and I knew I could be studying, which lead to me doubting myself, which fucked my head up enough so that when I don’t do as well as I think I should, I think that it’s because I’m not as smart and talented as people think, and not because I didn’t sleep for 2 days before the test.

Long-term perfection is hard. Do you know how often I mess things up? Literally every single day. Those “perfect” people have to be the same way. There have to be Buddhist monks, who have devoted their lives to being self-actualized, who have probably cut someone off in traffic. Elon Musk must have loudly farted in front of potential investors, unless my theory is correct, and he’s an actual cyborg. Those compounding failures form a fog of war that clouds my judgement, making me doubt things that should be no-brainers. The pressure for me to do better is always there, always biting at my heels, always telling me I suck, and it’s pretty fucking annoying.

I think perfectionists are driven by pressure. I certainly am. It’s wild, I’ll procrastinate for days on a writing assignment because I really like writing and want to do well, but I don’t think that my ideas can live up to the expectations I have in my head. This leads me to fart out some half-assed word salad, that actually does well. You’d think that this would make me happy, but usually all I think is “Wow, this person took it easy on me.” Which leads me to think that people are just telling me that I’m smart because they care about me and want me to feel good, and that I’m actually too stupid to see that I’m not talented. I’ve got crazy high expectations for everyone in my life, especially myself, and I get let down when they don’t meet those standards. My brain telling me that I’m terrible keeps me motivated, as bad as that sounds, and I’m sure it’s responsible for a decent amount of good things, but it has absolutely ruined so many others.

I don’t know how to change, I don’t know how to stop being hard on myself, and I’m worried that if I do, I won’t be able to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. If you’ve read my other articles, you know I have ADHD, and I’m sure that it has a part to play in why I am the way I am. I don’t know if I’m really smart, or if people are just too polite to tell me to my face that I’m a moron. If you’ve dealt with the same thing, please comment on what you did, I’m sure that someone else can use the same advice.

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Evanzavis

I'm a 25 year-old Gemini who likes long walks on the beach, clever copy, and relaxing on the golf course with some good beers.

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