My Perfect Problem

Monday, February 8, 2016

It has taken me a while, and many drafts to write this post. I have repressed this problem more than anything I have ever had to deal with. I am a perfectionist.

For people who know me personally, this may seem odd to you. You know that I generally have a cluttered space and that I do not enjoy cleaning, but hopefully after reading this, you will have a sense of how it is completely normal for this to go hand in hand with being perfect.

I should also state that this is absolutely not a humorous thing, I am not saying "Oh, I am so perfect and I can do no wrong." No I am legitimately dealing with this, it is a thing. I will start at the beginning.

As a child, I was always that kid who wouldn't eat if my food touched. I would always completely set up my Barbies "house" before I could play with them. I was controlling in my friendships. Most of my actions people brushed off as me being a brat, which made the way my brain processed things even worse. I thought I was disappointing people because I came off as snobby or ungrateful. This eventually developed into an inherent need to please people. I chose things based on how other people would react. I didn't do certain things in case someone else didn't find it appropriate or necessary.

Fast forward to high school. I suddenly became a person I like to call "Suzie High School". I was involved in as many activities and programs as I could. I fed off the praise and compliments that my teachers and friends gave, meanwhile my brain started to become this villain telling me I still wasn't good enough. I eventually started to only take on the minimum amount of classes and academic-oriented things I needed to graduate and dived right into clubs and committees. If I wasn't perfect at it, I quit. There wasn't then and to this day, an in between. I was and am still good at math because it has a definite answer, no grey area. Cut and dry.

The lowest low of my life came when I was 20. I had quit university, because I wasn't getting A+ marks, just B's (I know, still a good mark, but my brain can't process the logic), I received a promotion into management at the retail job I had worked at since I was 16 and thought I was on top of the world. A few months later, we got a new manager and I ended up being a casualty. Without getting into specifics, I was fired (without cause). I took this as the ultimate failure, and it was the first major failure I had ever had to process. I cried for weeks and even though I knew, for the most part, that what happened had nothing to do with me, I felt like I had disappointed my manager. He is the one who did something wrong, but I felt like I needed to apologize for it. I was unemployed for 10 months. This ended up pushing me into going back to school and now I have a diploma and a career, but it isn't that simple.

I went to business school, because someone else thought it was best. I became an accountant, because someone told me it was practical. I am still an accountant because I am good at it and can't fail. I have a messy room, because I couldn't get it to look exactly like I wanted it to, so I gave up trying at all. There is two sides to being a perfectionist; Everything has to be in a particular box, compartmentalized until you can't split it up any more, and the other side of it is only doing things you know you are good at. I mentally cannot wrap my mind around trying something new, unless I know I will succeed. When you are a perfectionist, happy medium is not in your vocabulary.

With the weight loss program I am in, they require you to see a psychologist. This ended up being a huge wakeup call for me. Within my first hour of talking with her, she had diagnosed me with perfectionism and people pleasing tendencies. She explained that even though I was a messy person, or had failed at loosing weight before, there was a brain. She has taught me coping mechanism's and I have read some books on dealing with this, but it isn't something that I will ever be cured of. It is the way I work, it is more than my nature, it is chemical, biological and that is fine. Just because I am dealing with this, does not make me less than. I have to approach things differently and make sure to have little to no expectations going into certain situations, that way, failure is not an outcome that I haven't considered and I won't be broadsided if it happens.

I wanted to talk about this because I feel like I can't be the only one who feels like this or has gone through this. I feel like this is especially prevalent in my generation. We are the in between: old enough to remember how it was, but young enough to know that society has changed drastically. The expectation to succeed and be the best is what we have come to know and we live in a culture of winning. I also wanted to say that it's ok, there is always going to be a first place and a last place, the trick is to realizing that coming in last still means you tried.

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