Cambridge Dictionary defines a perfectionist as
“a person who wants everything to be perfect and demands the highest standards possible.”
However, there is one flaw: wanting everything to be perfect is an imperfection in itself. From as long as we existed, it was always a competition to strive better, be better, and attain the best if not second best result. Chasing after the big fat P has always been programmed in our human anatomy, which often presents itself upon the driving forces of ambition, competitiveness and idealism.
But, a perfectionist will always fail to be perfect because perfection is just a mere utopia to justify to ourselves of our achievements. As a perfectionist myself, striving for excellence is something expected, something that I derive most of my pleasures from when I know that my end product has exceeded other’s expectations. But the process leading up to attaining that level of pleasure is so brutal and demoralising that I often wish that I could be like “the others”: so carefree, enjoying themselves and still get the job done without the same bone-crushing anxieties that I possess.
The Crippling Effect
It’s physically, emotionally and mentally taxing to have to constantly be in situations where you work your body, heart and head off to only be faced with another round of discrepancies and problems which you have to constantly correct. If you’re like me, you will be one of the world’s biggest worrier: worrying about the project, your peers that are working alongside you, your superiors opinion… You can see how the tension and stress build upon our shoulders and self-esteem plummeting at every error made. This crippling feeling just latches on to your emotions like a leech, draining out all the confidence one has and filling it with self-doubt, to the extent in which I show distrust to my peers on their ability to get things right, to be perfect. I’ve reached rock-bottom to the point where I question the use of hustling: why do I work so hard only to know it’s not enough? The stress kills me and I can not escape the crushing anxieties hurling at my way. And in searching for an answer throughout my teenage years, I got an epiphany.
Imperfection can breed excellence if you allow yourself to make mistakes
I realised that demanding perfection from myself makes me fear mistakes, fear failure. But yet, mistakes are the sole things that guide us to not make it again. Coming up with millions of theories to prevent a mistake can not and will not be able to predict how a mistake will be made and that’s the nature of mistakes. Then why then, are we afraid of it? External influences of friends and family, as well as our own expectations imposed on us, forced us to crave for zero mistakes, but it also makes us live a stressful, unenjoyable life. What is life then? We should fight for our own happiness, secure our own positivity and self-esteem and not go through this rampage of self-loathing and detachment. Being a perfectionist drives us to hustle harder, but we should also hustle for our happiness. Hence, here are some guides to hustle your happiness while hustling for your future.
1) Talk to someone:
Be it your family, friends or a neutral third-party (that creates a safe space for you to share), find someone to talk about your situation. Often we face self-denial of our own “incapabilities” to handle ourselves but that should not prevent us from seeking help and feel vulnerable. Tell them about the things that cause you worry and stress, as well as your own feelings towards them. In doing so, you are able to let go of some of the emotional baggage that you’re carrying as well as allow others to help you in your journey.
2) Learn to let go:
Yes, you’ve heard it right. Often times, we feel that we are indispensable from situations because we are only able to trust ourselves in having the best abilities to execute a plan. Understand that your peers do have the capabilities to do the things you do and not belittle them in thinking that they can’t. Let others take the bullet and learn to take the backseat in running the show and who knows, maybe they can be useful in taking on these situations and you can be assured of not being in control for once.
3) Make mistakes:
Now I’m not saying you can suddenly switch to being carefree and caring less of what you need to do, because obviously, we all can’t, not that quickly anyway. What I meant is that when you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up because of it. Because that one mistake should not take away how successful your project or work is. Do not let this take away your effort in making your work shine. With experience in “perfecting” your work, mistakes have to be made to give you directions of where something goes wrong.
Remember: We are not machines, we are human. We all make mistakes as it is in our nature to do so. It is hard to be a perfectionist and be happy at the same time, so make your life count as only you are there for yourself.