Are you being stifled and stymied by your own perfectionist attitude? The constant need to be better than the best. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but there will always be someone better. Always.
For the sake of argument, there will always be those worse at whatever you’re doing, too. Whether you like it or not, we’re all middle of the road–until we’re not and then we are again.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism: a refusal to accept any standard short of perfection or perceived ideal. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
The thing is, the notion of something being ideal or perfect is different for everyone.
What Perfectionism can Do:
The affliction of perfectionism in any form can and will cause anxiety, stress and a life full of never having quite succeeded.
It’s half finished projects, starts that go nowhere, or finished work that no one gets to see because you don’t think it’s good enough. For some it can lead to real trouble with mental health and living a fulfilling life. Look at this:
Like Holy Moly….don’t let your writing make you sick.
1…EXPECTATION IS A KILLER
If you’re a writer, then stepping back from the table of perfectionism will be a healthy thing.
Any expectation of having to be “perfect” means you’ll always fall short of the mark because you can’t reach high enough
–just a little bit more…
–just a little bit better…
–just a little bit longer…
It. Never. Stops.
As writers, we need to embrace the idea of edits and Editors and this comes from sharing our work.
You must let go of the expectation you put on yourself as a writer because your work is unique and special and deserves a place in the world.
We get better in our writing by taking direction from others. Yikes–that’s scary for the perfectionist to hear.
If the expectation is external–
If someone has said they want it perfect–then define exactly what their expectation is.
Remember it means something different to everyone and it can be a waste of time and energy to keep fixing the same thing over and over again without any direction.
2…SAVE YOURSELF THE EXASPERATION
A feeling of exasperation is like that constant feeling of annoyance and irritation.
Your patience wears thin, nothing is going right, so in exasperation you do one of a few things: a)you rip everything up swearing never to write again, b)you take a long swig on a whiskey bottle and kick the garbage can, or c) you go bury yourself in a bowl of triple fudge ripple ice cream and watch an endless loop of Friends reruns.
Exasperation caused by your perfectionism, strangles your creativity and is common.
Imagine the toll it takes on all those tiny blood vessels, psyche, and stress levels.
3…EDGINESS CAN PUSH OTHERS AWAY
This is an affect of trying to be perfect.
Being irritable and bitchy can become the norm. You may feel like you’re the only one doing anything correctly–or to your perfectionist expectations.
Or conversely, you may feel like you never measure up with everyone else, so why bother?
If you experience a sense of edginess prior to entering a situation because you don’t feel perfect enough then that will carry on and grow to things like full blown anxiety etc.
That’s not a fun way to live.
There’s so many great writing communities either in person or on-line, where you can find mentors, or perhaps be a mentor, and share your vast wisdom. Who knows you may learn something and have fun at the same time. Drop the perfectionism…it’s not attractive.
4…DON’T BE AN ESCAPIST AKA:AVOIDER
Some people who strive for the perfect “everything”, are also looking for a sense of control over their own environment or world.
The act of doing things to a point of un-acquirable self satisfaction could mean other life issues are being avoided.
The individual may escape to their perfectionist ways as a way of coping.
As a writer I had to let go of the perfectionist in me a long time ago. For me it usually came out in my need to have the perfect word, sentence, or finished product. I’d drive myself crazy by doing it over and over and over. What I realized I was doing was escaping back into the same work all the time and not moving forward in any way.
Once I gave myself permission to make mistakes and be human, it made all the difference in the world. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to write this and omg I never would have published it.
I am human. People will judge whether there are errors or not. It doesn’t matter anymore.
5…EXHAUSTION WILL PULL YOU DOWN
When I think of someone constantly trying to be perfect, it exhausts me so I can only imagine what it does to them.
For the write who has that constant drive to go, go, go is hyper-vigilance to the n-th degree. The brain is already such a busy place that doing the same thing over and over again trying to make it better is pointless because you won’t ever find the end of that line.
Nothing is ever good enough or in the right place–I couldn’t want to live that way. Writers can’t write if they’re always going back to change, edit, and perfect a sentence. They also begin to lose creativity as exhaustion and discouragement set in.
If you see yourself in this, please pull back. Stop. The toll on the mind and body is so overwhelming and exhausting you have to do something. Find a way to wind back the perfectionism–with a doctor, a therapist, self help books, a mentor…something.
The sooner you realize there is no utopia in writing (or in the world for that matter)–the better.
Life is about compromise and acceptance. Cut yourself some slack and let go of the perceived short falls. If perfectionism is leading you down a dark path of mental health please seek help.
Get away from the E’s of perfection and work towards ACCEPTANCE. (Oh, and if there’re any spelling, typos, or grammatical errors in this post…hey-I’m not perfect!)
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