My name is Ipek Williamson, and I am a perfectionist. We all have seen the scene in movies or shows where the character says this sentence at Alcoholics Anonymous, though instead of “perfectionist” they use the word alcoholic.
Even if you are sober for years and years, you still call yourself an alcoholic. It’s the same in my case. Because I’m not as big a perfectionist as I was a few years ago. But I still feel the dragon raising its head from the dungeon from time to time.
When you are a perfectionist, it’s hard to let go of so many things. For example, sitting down and writing your blog post while your dog’s little hairballs travel around the room. Or, letting your son clean the kitchen when you know damn well that even after his most sincere efforts, the kitchen will look nowhere near your standards.
In the workplace, to see presentations prepared by others full of typos. Organizing an offsite company event and realizing upon arrival to the venue that the room hasn’t set up according to your instructions.
Could anything be perfectly perfect?
Wikipedia describes perfectionism as; “…a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards. Accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”
I find this description quite accurate. Because by being perfectionist, you don’t only expect others to be up to your standards, but you also beat yourself all the time for the smallest mistakes you make.
But is it possible for anything to be perfect? Is there anything completely and utterly perfect out there? According to Stephen Hawking, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist. Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” The hardest part, for a chronic perfectionist, is to accept this reality.
Brooke Huminski says in her article: “Silencing our harshest critic: recognizing and breaking free of perfectionism.” that the only way to let perfectionism give us a break is to move forward and learn to work and live from a place of self-acceptance and compassion. She suggests to us, the incurable perfectionists, to consider utilizing the practice of radical acceptance, in which we embrace ourselves wholeheartedly while proceeding toward change imperfectly.
Easier said than done
Though, is it that bad to be a perfectionist? Everything is good in moderation for you until they pass the threshold and become an obsession. So, being a perfectionist but also tolerating and making peace with millions of imperfections around us is possible, even though it’s not easy. With practice, it’s doable.
A tree is never perfect. But it’s beautiful as is, with all its imperfections. Things we get are perfect when they are brand new, but with time they break, get old, show their flaws. Training your perfectionist self into being able to live with the flaws is critical for having a peaceful mind.
I, on the other hand, am trying hard to be okay with imperfect. You would be proud of me if you’d to see the laptop that I use with broken keys and the taped cord.
It might be a good idea for everyone to look at the bigger picture and ask themselves if minor annoyances deserve their time and attention as much as they think.
Perfect doesn’t exist. And the sooner we accept that reality, the simpler life becomes.