It's nearly the same every day: wake up, make breakfast, start the shower, teeth and facial cleansing, make-up, grab my coffee cup and I'm out the door. My grandma used to call it "fixations" - the way that I would get stuck on one thing and not be able to move forward without solving that one problem. Sadly, this fixation mindset has only grown deeper and I get fixated on repairing broken relationships, friendships, trust, etc. It's easy to say that I'm a perfectionist, but it may not be easy to say that perfectionism invades your life as well. If you or someone you know has ever charged you with being a perfectionist, you might want to consider these 4 questions.
4. Are you hypercritical of yourself?
I notice this attribute a lot, especially when it comes to conflicts. Guilt is a guiding emotion of mine, so it escalates when conflict arises and I'm blaming myself for something that may have ultimately been out of my control. For example, I tend to blame myself for how others are and impose questions onto myself such as, "Why couldn't I be better?" instead of accepting that maybe that person was not a God-ordained being who was supposed to be in my life. If you're like me, it's time to see past "why didn't they like me" and start examining the true questions, which are: "Why do I need their approval? Why don't I like me?"
3. Are you neurotic?
People like to say, "don't stress the little things" and that's a nice romantic idea to entertain, but it's not always achievable simply because us perfectionists have this fixed view of the way things "should" be." For my Insecure fans, this was one of the words Molly's therapist suggested Molly remove from her vocabulary simply because it hindered Molly from accepting the way things were and appreciating all the blessings that surrounded her. I know this sentiment extends to me too.
Here I am a poor girl from the Southside of Chicago who made it to and nearly through college while publishing two novels, producing a play, and winning a creative writing contest, yet I stress out over things that, ultimately, don't matter because they do not, or at least should not, affect the plan that I have set for myself and that God has set for me. Sometimes, we fall victim to our neurotic behavior and my simple solution is to look at what's in front of us and not what, or who's, behind.
2. Do you romanticize?
Like guilt, romanticism is another guiding trait of mine. Every perfectionist's motive for their romanticism is different, but mine is because of where I come from. I didn't grow up with much and pretty much had no choice but to envision a world where things could be better. Alas, this backfired because I got caught in the "should" mindset. I "should" have been able to have the niceties other kids had. I "should" have been able to go to college debt-free. I "should" have gotten picked for that internship in New York. The trouble with this is that we perfectionists don't know how to accept that things do not always go according to plan.
I began with an anecdote about my morning routine because, for the most part, I like to follow routines. I eat the same kind of foods, go with the same kind of hairstyles, wear the same kind of outfits, etc. because it's comfortable. I used to think it was comical that my grandma would come to pick me up from high school and park in the exact same spot every day. If there was another car there, she would get flustered because someone had taken "her" spot; this was comical until it became my reality. I am just a younger her.
1. Do you cope?
I've found that journaling helps to alleviate some of the anxiety of being a perfectionist. This reflection allows me to have more control over my thoughts and see situations objectively and not just from my own perspective. Another attribute of perfectionism is this perceived infallibility of self. With perfectionists, there are many extremes and this extreme is the converse of being hypercritical; it's living a life without criticism so that the world is to blame for all of our problems.
It's not easy being a perfectionist. It's a very anxious life out here, but the beauty of being human beings is that we are all capable of change. It's just a matter of believing it can happen. Now, this won't happen overnight. I've come to grips with being a perfectionist and try to reduce the behavior, but it's a fabric of my being. Instead of working against it, I try to see how it works in my favor. Here are a few positives about perfectionism:
The "Rebellious Woman" blog is a periodic scoop on hair, love, race, politics, and everything in between. Stay tuned for reflections the life of a rebel with a cause!