Ah, perfection… our mortal enemy.
A perfectionist is:
As someone who struggled with perfectionism for most of his life, and as someone who intimately knows people who struggle with it as well, I have something to say about perfectionism…
What a monster this is…
What is this perfection we chase? Can we ever achieve it? Is it something on the horizon? Or is it the horizon itself? The horizon will never be close to us, chasing it will yield nothing, ever. No matter how much we move towards the horizon, the horizon remains distant.
Let’s come at this from a sneaky little angle. Let’s ask: What makes something imperfect?
From my experience, I feel what makes something imperfect is if someone, anyone, points something about it that they disapprove of. Any disapproval of something makes it imperfect. When you show someone something you love, and they point out the one thing that is not absolutely perfect about it, that is the experience we try to avoid when we seek perfection. We don’t want to let anyone point out the bad things about what we love. So we try to find or create things that no one can point anything out about it that is bad in any way from anyone’s potential perspective or interpretation.
What we avoid is criticism. Whether productive or not. It’s not like people who criticize are very careful and thoughtful and considerate. Usually the comments we try to avoid are ones people throw out callously as emotional reactions without a single thought about the thing they’re criticizing.
Not only are we avoiding criticism, which is usually careless and inconsiderate, thoughtless and unconstructive, but we’re also seeking praise, or some kind of positive affirmation and attention. We want people to have the same overwhelmingly positive impression about this thing we love as we do when we show it to them.
We all logically understand that we can’t guarantee them having the reaction we want them to have. But emotionally…. that’s another story. Emotionally, we don’t want them to say something hurtful. So we try to fix anything about the thing we want to show them that they might not like. Until…. until when do we keep “fixing“ things about it? Have you figured it out? Until it’s …..perfect.
Will it ever be perfect? Can it? No it can’t. It’ll never be perfect. So we get stuck like this. Stuck trying so hard to make it perfect. Stuck in this endless job that has no deadline, and no finish post. We end up sharing nothing, and protecting ourselves from the hurt we anticipate.
All the while we remain wanting to share it with someone. It remains hidden within us, never to see the light of day. Like a child we love, whom we suffocate.