Striving for imperfection

In today’s post, I want to focus on perfectionism. The often overlooked dangers of it, as well as the society that encourages it. Without further ado, I’m going to get into it.

Perfectionism

“a personality trait characterised by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.” ~ Wikipedia (a fountain of wisdom, my own emphasis added)

To be honest, Wikipedia sums it up pretty well. What I understand perfectionism to be is this constant reaching for more, for better, for higher – in any aspect of life. Academics, friendships, sport, work, family…. everything and anything. It is often misunderstood as a positive thing, when in actual fact it’s all-consuming and detrimental to mental well-being.

A glorified flaw

Perfectionism, in this day and age, is a glorified flaw. Some of our favourite book and film heroines are perfectionists, always having to be the best. Many of the most successful people in the world are perfectionists, doing a million different things to an incredibly high level. But in reality, perfectionism is a flaw. It is accompanied by a pernicious fear of failure – a fear that is so real, it can stop people from truly chasing their dreams. Additionally, it also encourages over-working & often results in burn out. We need to stop praising perfectionism and start addressing it.

Recovering from perfectionism

I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionistic tendencies enabled and fuelled my eating disorder, my exercise addiction, my self-loathing, my body dysmorphia and a whole host of other painful parts of my life. Perfectionism can lead to success – I don’t think I’d have gotten the grades at GCSE and A-level that I did if it weren’t for it – but it can also lead to massive failures. Which is interesting, because perfectionism’s arch enemy is failure. A fear of failure is what limits and rules a perfectionist mind. And yet this very mindset inevitably leads to failure, because no one can achieve perfection. Accepting this is the first step to recovering from perfectionism.

Embracing imperfection

What we need to start doing as a society is to embrace imperfection. Although the very idea of imperfection resides in the concept of “perfection” being an existing and achievable state – which it isn’t – it will remain a useful tool until we banish perfection (as an ideal) from society. Which will obviously take a while, so I’m sticking with this notion of embracing imperfection – i.e. the things we deem to be “flaws” in our lives. They can be physical (e.g. stretch marks) or psychological (sensitivity). Some we can work on, and others we can’t.

Imperfectionism

Imperfectionism allows us to acknowledge our strengths and our weaknesses. To accept that some things can be worked on and others can’t. And to recognise that failure is a necessary part of life. Because failure is actually a success! There lies a lesson in all failures. If you fail at something, you aren’t a failure – simply a person navigating life. Don’t live in fear of failure. It will limit your potential, quash your dreams and leave you broken and empty. Go for that job interview, apply for that university, speak to that potential friend. Do the things that your perfectionist mindset has held you back from doing.

I promise you won’t regret it.


I hope this post was interesting and at least  little helpful to some of you!

Emma ♥♥