Plight of a Perfectionist
"[Perfectionism] is egotism. It is pride that makes us want to write a perfect script, paint a perfect painting, perform a perfect monologue”. - Julia Cameron
We’ve all been asked that age old question during job interviews, “what is your greatest weakness?” and I’d be willing to bet the vast majority, if not all, of you reading this have proudly declared at one point or another, “ I’m a perfectionist”. It sounds semi-impressive right? The fact that you won’t stop until something is the absolute best. Wrong! What you’re actually confessing is that it takes you too long to complete tasks because you’re stuck in a endless loop of personal achievement and struggle to move on. Not such an impressive skill then.
This week alone, I’ve tried to photograph my look on 3 separate occasions, each time not completely happy with the final outcome. Maybe the location wasn’t right, or the styling wasn’t up to par, or my face just wasn’t working the way I had envisioned it to. I’ve needlessly dragged my poor photographer across London in my pointless quest for perfection.
See, the first set of photos were OK. Perhaps not AH-MAZING but fine all the same. My second set were good - not great but good. You’d think third times the charm but I could easily pick apart these photos, obsessing over the minute details in each shot.
And then what about the writing to go with the photos?! I like to think of myself as a good writer but in truth this piece isn’t the best thing I’ve ever put together. And before I even wrote it, I had convinced myself that it probably wasn’t going to be my best work so why bother. I basically talked myself out of doing it before putting anything down on paper. I’m not dense, I understand that perfectionism is illusionary but I crave the production of quality work because what’s the point otherwise?
It’s exhausting being a perfectionist. It requires too much energy, mostly because you’re chasing something that doesn’t actually exist.
It takes too much time, so you put things off, you fret over the smallest of details that don’t really matter and then the desire to do whatever you were doing disappears and you give up. Perfectionism sucks the fun out of the doing anything because instead of enjoying the process, the perfectionist is constantly grading the work.
In reality, the more you do something, the more you learn, the better you become! It’s not about the final product, it’s about the doing. And the more mistakes you make along the way, the quicker you improve and the higher the chances that you’ll get it right next time. So fuck perfectionism! It’s not everyday perfect, sometimes good enough is good enough!