Confessions of a Perfectionist
written november 2, 2022
It's 10pm and as I am writing this, I face debilitating perfectionism and the ever-constant fear of failure. So basically… a normal Tuesday.
I’ve struggled with perfectionism for the longest time. I've never known a time without it, at least. An ever-present force, unassuming but deadly. That's not to say it's entirely bad. From it stems my perseverance and strong will. The refusal to back down until I've achieved excellence (aka, "perfection"). My passion comes from perfectionism, too. The all-consuming obsession over a new interest. The desire to just know and do everything I possibly can. I feed this monster, hoping it keeps me going. In some ways, we both only survive because of the other.
But like with everything, perfectionism has its… not so great effects. My perseverance becomes stubbornness. Working myself numb to get a 100 that wouldn't matter in five years. Endlessly grinding out A-pluses, chasing after a worthless award that will never validate me in the eyes of my parents. My passion becomes burnout, a well of self-expression gone dry.
Why do I do all this? What good will burning myself out do?
I subject myself to this because succumbing to perfectionism is easy. I can always rely on her to get me through. I've become a machine, only made to follow, to obey. Creativity takes energy, and I'm barely keeping myself alive these days. I'm just so, SO tired, and I don't even know what to do now… half the time I'm just tempted to give up altogether.
But I don't.
Something is holding me back, and I can't tell if it's my perfectionism, passion, or some mix of the two. A new monster, made from the blood and guts of both the good and the bad.
That's all we are, aren't we? Just a messy mix of humanity. Sometimes I forget that we're all lost in some way. Others are just better at pretending they're not.
Passion and perfectionism are two sides of the same coin. You can't be passionate if you aren't constantly questioning and improving. But it's impossible to be a perfectionist if you don't have passion and intense love for your work.. in Standing on the tightrope between the two, we are given the best of both worlds, the fire and the kindle to burn.
Keep that fire burning, but never let it burn you up.