The Problem with Perfect
My name is Sarah, and I am a perfectionist.
For years, I thought this was a good thing. Everywhere we look, there are messages telling us to look flawless, live our best life, get rich or die trying and work, bitch. We are encouraged to have it all, rewarded when we excel at work and school, and celebrate when we drop a dress size.
But there is always something new to strive for. A new level of enough-ness to achieve, more followers to reach on Instagram, and a new yoga pose to master or superfood to eat.
I realised that perfectionism was a problem for me when a psychologist pointed it out.
I was being treated for anxiety at the time, and I remember him gently asking about my unrelenting high standards. Then it dawned on me… I’m my own worst enemy.
This is what it was like to be in my head:
I need to lose 5kg
I have to get a High Distinction for this essay
I wish I had more money
I’m not influential enough on social media
Burn more calories!
My handbag is so last season
I refuse to get wrinkles
The list goes on, but you get the picture .
Writing this post took months. I adore writing, but agonised over each word in my head because getting it ‘perfect’ was so important to me.
Where am I now?
I still struggle with perfectionism every day, but I at least have a dialogue in my head about what really matters in the scheme of things. So my social media game and strict dieting have slipped, but the dedication I pour into my work, study and relationships hasn’t.
On a good day, the empowered woman in me wins, and says ‘fuck perfect’: I have a lot of flaws, and I’m very tired of hiding them in my size 6-8 dresses.
I really don’t like doing maths, spreadsheets make me feel uncomfortable, one of my boobs is bigger than the other, I occasionally smoke when I’m stressed and I am ambivalent towards cooking. I love eyelash extensions - quite possibly because they draw attention away from the fine lines I’ve started to get under my eyes - and I can’t for the life of me meditate. I’m also terrible at driving, I have a fancy yoga mat gathering dust that has never been used, and networking events scare me.
My new mantra, in the words of Advertising genius and rampant feminist Cindy Gallop, is ‘fuck that shit’.
I’d rather blow something up that try to please everyone. Because after all, perfect is boring.