Hi, my name is Teresa and I am a perfectionist.
Many people use the word “perfectionist” as a way to compliment themselves, but I find my perfectionist tendencies can actually have truly devastating consequences. If a person really has the characteristics of a perfectionist, that person really does see it as more of a fault than something to brag about.
I hold myself to an impossible standard. The impossible standards of a perfectionist are hard to live up to. I can even recognize what I’m doing, but I do it anyway because I just feel like the bar should, for some reason, go that high. In high school, making an A never felt good enough. I had to get every question right. At the very least, I had to get the highest grade in the class. If I didn’t, it felt awful, like the wind got knocked out of me. I felt like a loser. Like a dummy. I mean, even in an Advanced Placement class, if I didn’t get the highest grade in the class, I would berate myself. Imagine how I felt when I graduated third in my class. I went on for years about how I didn’t even get second in my class. THIRD. Loser? I went to college. I graduated with honors, despite several bouts of depression, likely brought on in part by my impossible standards.
If I can do it, so can you. I’m working so hard not to hold other people to the same craziness I hold myself to. It really begins to destroy relationships when you get all pissed off at someone because they didn’t do something the way you wanted them to. Perfectly. Beautifully. No, no, no! Write it this way!! OMG. What are you doing?! Stop! Just let ME do it! Yes, I’m a control freak. I mean well. I honestly do. I just want everyone else to do it to perfection. Follow the rules. Use perfect grammar. Dot every i and cross every t, because you never know when someone might come and look over your work. God forbid I should explain something more than once. I’d rather just do it all myself. The virtue of patience–something I’m learning. Lord, please help me in this endeavor.
You see, I may say the Serenity Prayer a thousand times a day, but the perfectionist inside of me screams, “BUT I WANT TO CHANGE EVERYTHING!” Let me right the wrongs of the world. Let me make the imperfections perfect. Allow me to change the lives of millions of children so none of them struggle ever again. Make the world see my child and others like him as beautiful. Make just the injustices. I can fix it all; I just know it. And yet, I know that only God has the power to oversee all that. My power has limitations, and it still drives me nuts.
One of these days, I’ll say my prayer and I’ll find peace that lasts more than a few seconds. If only they had a 12-step program for perfectionists.
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