Jun 09 2008

Perfectionists Anonymous

Published by at 12:01 am under random

Hi my name is Meg and I’m a perfectionist. Mostly, I wish I wasn’t.

Being a perfectionist sucks:

  • Little tasks take a LOT longer
  • Compulsion to dot the”i’s” and cross the “t’s”
  • The Pareto Principle (80/20) is impossible to apply
  • You’re never happy with what you produce
  • You are hypersensitive to criticism
  • Hitting “publish” on a blog post causes anxiety and doubt 😉
  • Procrastination rules – ok?

Perfectionism does NOT mean that you are perfect, or THINK that you are perfect – far from it. You are acutely aware of your imperfections and it bugs you.

While you might apply tough standards in some areas, other areas go unnoticed. Weird huh?

For example, in some areas of your study or work you struggle to ensure it is “just so” – but your room, or house can be a complete mess. Or vice versa. Your house may be immaculate, but your accounts are a mess. I guess it depends on what’s important to you on the day.

Sticking your hand up and saying “I’m a perfectionist” is not easy to do. It’s like raising a red flag to a bull, in that some people will delight in showing exactly where you are NOT perfect. They needn’t bother to do this, because perfectionists are their own worst critic.

As a perfectionist, it’s hard having a daughter tainted with the same brush. Seeing her beat herself up when she stuffs up ever so slightly. Watching her get teary at the slightest criticism. Seeing her give 110% to something, and not necessarily have her efforts rewarded.

The cynical might say “That’s life. Better that she gets used to it early”. Perhaps. It’s just a tough lesson to teach when you still struggle with it yourself.

Sometimes, I kind of wish that I could just say “fuck it. It’s not important”…. and really mean it.

26 responses so far

26 Responses to “Perfectionists Anonymous”

  1. sandraon 09 Jun 2008 at 1:23 am

    Greetings from an American perfectionist, or recovering perfectionist. As a child I would think I shouldn’t do something if someone else could do it better. It was years before I realized the problem.

    My daughter has the same problem, so I’m trying desperately to keep her from underachieving simply because she’s not the best at something. Once I turned 50 (54 today in AU, tomorrow in the US) I began reading numerous self-help books. Hopefully they will help me help her.

    It’s not about being the best, it’s about creating something beautiful and everything you do is worthy, beautiful and good if it’s your best work. Funny how knowing something in your head doesn’t necessarily make you believe it in your heart.

    Now I’m wondering if I should just leave this page and not click the submit button, but what the heck, I’m in a sympathetic neighborhood.

    Love your blog, you write beautifully.

    sandra’s last blog post..Surges, Spikes and Sinks

  2. Lighteningon 09 Jun 2008 at 10:06 am

    It took me a LONG time to admit that I was a perfectionist. How could I be a perfectionist when perfect was such a long reach from where I am???

    I agree, it is so HARD watching your children exhibit similar tendencies and knowing how hard life it going to be for them if they don’t learn how to be less of a “perfectionist”.

    Do you think it’s an inborn trait or a learnt one? Or a bit of both?

    Lightening’s last blog post..Milestones and Reflections

  3. Bettinaon 09 Jun 2008 at 10:51 am

    Take one perfectionist, the ability to be constantly side tracked and you have a recipe for disaster. Sigh.

    Learning to say “fuck it……… it’s not important” is a real skill and one a lot of people struggle with.


    Bettina’s last blog post..And this one time,

  4. Katieon 09 Jun 2008 at 10:55 am

    I am a perfectionist and I HATE it. My whole life I beat myself up if I got a B+ instead of an A. I could never be happy with a good result – I was always disappointed that I didn’t do better. I couldn’t focus on the happiness or the positives, but rather on the disappointments and the negatives.

    I think it’s a learnt trait, so I think it’s really important that parents encourage their children to do their best, but also be thrilled for them when their best might only be a B or a C at school, or second-best in the competition, or a sunken cake instead of a masterpiece. Because before you know it, it’s too late and they’ll be perfectionists for life, never being able to step back and go “Gosh, I did well and I’m happy.”

    This, btw, isn’t directed at anyone in particular, it’s just my thoughts on it.

    Katie’s last blog post..WCB: Puddy Likes Feathers

  5. Gemishton 09 Jun 2008 at 11:33 am

    So, where do I sign up??? The big thing for me is if I can’t do something perfectly, then I don’t do it. Like the housework, if I can’t get the house looking perfect in whatever time I have then I just don’t do any of it.

    And uni work, everyone keeps telling me all I need is a pass but I want a HD – anything less won’t be good enough. Arrrrghhh, why do we put this pressure on ourselves, because if I am being realistic I am not likely to get HD’s, well maybe one or two but not all the time.

    Its not fun and I can see a bit of it in both my kids, and it worries me that they will never be good enough for themselves, despite how much work they put in to something and the mark that they get.

    Gemisht’s last blog post..Too Many Questions – Not Enough Answers

  6. Leighon 09 Jun 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Leigh asks where can I sign up for Perfectionists Anonymous! (sorry, too much plurking this weekend LOL)

    That is really is me to a T. The last 12mths it has become very bad, to the point where I can rarely get anything done these days :(. I have thought about seeing a life coach or someone that can help “fix” me.

    Wish there was an easy fix :(

    Leigh’s last blog post..Mosaic Maker meme

  7. Suzeon 09 Jun 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I’m with Leigh in that I have been getting nothing done as I am dwelling so much on what I perceive myself to be hopeless at, that it depresses me to the extent I don’t always function terribly well.
    In some ways, it’s almost easier to do nothing about anything, than do do something and possibly fail at it.

    Suze’s last blog post..Who Are You When You Blog?

  8. Leighon 09 Jun 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I hear ya Suze!

    Interesting that so many of us feel the same way, wonder if its a predominately female thing?

    Leigh’s last blog post..Mosaic Maker meme

  9. Ianon 09 Jun 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I’m terrible at beating myself up over the smallest screwups I make. And also I’ve basically got to the point of not even attempting a lot of handyman type things at home because I just know I won’t be satisfied with the result – much easier to pay a professional to do the job.

    Ian’s last blog post..Wank

  10. Kelleyon 09 Jun 2008 at 9:27 pm

    “Hitting “publish” on a blog post causes anxiety and doubt ”

    God I laughed when I read that. That is me every single time.

    My girls are the opposite. Things come easily to them, always have. They want to try something they breeze through. Biatches.

    I am like you, and the daughter of an uber perfectionist. It sucks. And there is nothing we can do about it. Damn it.

    Hovering over the submit comment button…….

    Kelley’s last blog post..Damn Emos

  11. Burgoon 10 Jun 2008 at 11:02 am

    It’s interesting, reading over the responses to your post, Meg, how many of us claim to be perfectionists as well.

    Almost makes you wonder whether being a perfectionist is a prerequisite to joining the “bloggers ranks”.

    Burgo’s last blog post..Live Music Friday – Pete Francis, live at The Woodstock Opera House

  12. Sueblimelyon 10 Jun 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Looking at who has anwered in the affirmative here I would say that only the best bloggers are perfectionists. Now I can’t you if I am a perfectionist or not as I do not want to classify myself as one of “the best” (or vice-versa) :-)

    Sueblimely’s last blog post..Best Backup and Synchronization Software

  13. Nicole Priceon 10 Jun 2008 at 1:11 pm

    I am not a perfectionist and certainly not perfect at anything, also i dont have most of the problems that perfectionists seem to have, especially the bit about being sensitive to criticism, i think my defence mechanisms are too firmly in place for me to be like that.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Father’s Day Gift Ideas

  14. Nicole Priceon 10 Jun 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Just one thing that perhaps makes me borderline perfectionist: i have difficulty in moving on to the next task if the current one is not complete, and that is even if they are not correlated. But i am working on that one, it is not an efficient way to work.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Father’s Day Gift Ideas

  15. Colin Campbellon 10 Jun 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Hello My Name is Colin and I am not a perfectionist. My wife wishes I was a little more so, but what the hell. I would have a lot of unlearning to do. I blame my mother. Does that mean that I am a not a good blogger Sue? :)

    Colin Campbell’s last blog post..Remembering the 1980s The Celtics against the Lakers

  16. PlanningQueenon 10 Jun 2008 at 5:39 pm

    It is nice to now that there are so many of us out there!!! The one thing that bothers me the most is the example that I am setting to my kids. They notice far more than they listen! I can already see some traits of perfectionism in my oldest son. I am going to have to work harder to hide my tendencies I think.

    PlanningQueen’s last blog post..10 Online Learning Game For Junior Primary School

  17. Furniture Fanon 11 Jun 2008 at 3:28 am

    I cannot believe that there are this many comments from people who share from this curse (at times). My challenge is letting tasks go and finding the right person to do them. I like the way that I do them which makes it hard to delegate.

    Furniture Fan’s last blog post..Modern Bathroom Vanities from La Roccia Part 3

  18. Lizon 14 Jun 2008 at 5:08 pm

    I have such a hard time accepting failure! I guess that’s all part of the perfectionist thing. I tend to just give up on things if I’m not perfect, because it’s too frustrating. It’s not very healthy, but I’m working on it.

    Liz’s last blog post..A Metal Gear Solid 4 non-review

  19. tiffon 16 Jun 2008 at 10:43 am

    I am a perfectionist in some things. My housework always suffers! LOL.
    Anyway, your post rang true for me. It is easy to beat yourself up. I wonder where perfectionism springs from?
    Is there a trigger?

    tiff’s last blog post..From the frying pan into the fire.

  20. Eva Whiteon 16 Jun 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Being a perfectionist also means that most people will trust you with anything. My father was like that with all friends and family depending on him. So while it might be tiring at times, it is also worth the effort.

    Eva White’s last blog post..Horse Riding

  21. Burgoon 18 Jun 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Heh. And seeing as it’s now been nearly 10 days between posts, I’m guessing that the dreaded “perfectionism” is still rearing its head, Meg?

    Burgo’s last blog post..Live Music Friday – Amos Lee, live on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”

  22. Andyon 18 Jun 2008 at 8:30 pm

    You only touch shortly a point which I think is very important: The effect on your environment. You are not happy until its perfect – but the others suffer.
    I admit I´m married to a wife, which is one of these 100 % people. On one side there are many good effects – but sometimes its horrible. Nothing is finished until its perfect. Oh my god, this can be frustrating.

  23. Peter McCartneyon 19 Jun 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Hi! If ever I was to go to court, having been charged with being a perfectionist, I would have to nod the scone and pleaded guilty. I too could give the positives about being a perfectionist, but that would only seal my fate.

    Peter McCartney’s last blog post..Fear of the Known

  24. Sueblimelyon 01 Jul 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Colin, some of the best bloggers have other qualities apart from perfectionism. You are a prime example of course.

    Whew did I get out of that one OK?

    Sueblimely’s last blog post..Weekend WWW Wanderings

  25. Nicole Priceon 04 Jul 2008 at 2:40 pm

    That’s a lot of perfectionists around! And is it the [alleged] perfectionism why we dont see that much of you around here :) ?

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Fitness Equipment: Some Good Deals

  26. Spleepon 14 Jul 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Hi my name is Phil, and I’m not a perfectionist.

    Stop start, stop start…. jobs half done argh!

    Honesty heals, believe you me 😉