Coping With Perfectionism

Hello everyone!

I know I’m not perfect and there’s no reason for me to be (because nobody truly is), yet I constantly pressure myself to reach perfection. In some ways it can be a positive thing since I’m pushing to become the best possible version of myself, but it still borderlines on unhealthy. I often discourage myself from participating in certain activities if I know I won’t be good at them, and I usually don’t enjoy what I’m doing if I’m not talented in some way. Sometimes I feel unstoppable and like I can conquer the world (that’s the ultra-motivated, creative side of me who sees all the cool opportunities out there I want to pursue), and sometimes I feel worthless and untalented in all aspects.

For example, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about my tumbling lesson I had yesterday and my cheerleading experience in general. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am a high school cheerleader, but I plan on dropping the sport next year. Yes, it’s the right decision overall for me as it’s a huge time commitment and I don’t enjoy it anymore- but why don’t I enjoy it? One of the main reasons is because I’m not particularly good at it. Yesterday at my tumbling lesson, I was having trouble throwing a certain skill without my coach spotting me. He was encouraging me to do it on my own by saying I was talented and he knew I could do it. This was obviously very kind of him and it kind of helped, but in a way it only made me feel worse- because I’m not really talented at the sport, and I know that.

To me, being a perfectionist doesn’t mean I’m actually amazing at everything that I do- it just means that I don’t like doing anything that I’m not good at, because I want everything I do to be perfect or close to it. Considering I haven’t found my passion/talent or anything I’m particularly good at yet, this means I often feel bad about my personal skills when participating in most activities/things. I’m jealous of all my friends who 1) aren’t perfectionists and therefore aren’t as hard on themselves and 2) actually are involved in things they love and are good at. I can be super discouraging to myself.

Moreover, I often get excited about the idea of trying new things, thinking I might find my true talent and something I’ll love doing forever; that’s how I felt about cheer when I first started. I told myself, ‘This is amazing, I love this.” I soon realized that it wasn’t my hidden talent or passion, and the more time I spent on it, the more sad I got realizing that I wasn’t good at it and I didn’t want to do it anymore. Once I get settled into an activity and come to the realization it’s not really my thing or I’m not good at it, I easily grow tired of it and want to stop. I’ve stayed committed to cheer for a longer time mainly because I didn’t want to be a quitter and there still were some parts of it I liked, but this cycle happens with most activities I do.

I want nothing more than to find something that calls out to me, something that I love to do, something that I’m genuinely good at and have some natural aptitude for. I don’t expect to be an expert right away, but I want something where I can see progression. As I’ve mentioned, I’ll get excited about trying new things- I’ll be really motivated when I start and I’ll feel pretty good about how things are going, but I won’t end up improving/growing/progressing as I put more time into it. Things usually stay stagnant, which frustrates me as I’ll still put the same amount of work in (I try to give everything my all), so I lose motivation and want to stop.

I know my perfectionism prevents me from enjoying things that I might have just liked to do for fun, but I don’t know how to get rid of it. At this point, I really do want to find things that I’m good at just to prove myself that I do have some sort of talent, but beyond that issue, I would like to rid myself of the need to be good at something to feel validated and like I have self-worth. I know your skills in certain fields don’t define you as a person, but I just want to be good at what I do and have some sort of success that I can be proud of myself for. If I wasn’t a perfectionist, maybe I wouldn’t care to feel this way at all.

This may seem like a negative spin on things, but I have a positive example of one area where I’ve managed to negate my perfectionism: this blog. As I’ve mentioned, I normally don’t keep participating in activities that I don’t think I’m good at. I’ve questioned my blogging skills quite a few times, as this blog has remained very small-scale and I’m not the best at coming up with good ideas for posts. My perfectionist brain has told me it’s not worth doing and that I should just scrap it, but I enjoy writing and I like having a space to dump my ideas, so I’ve kept going. It may seem small, and I would still like to make my blog more successful in the future, but it’s a big step for me.

It’s hard for me to step back and analyze my perfectionism since it is such a big part of me and my motivation to do things, but I hope I can put more of a positive spin on it in the future. It has given me a more ‘all in’ philosophy in life since when I jump into something new, I come in with full motivation and effort to do the best I can with it, which can come in handy. Honestly, I’m just a high school student as lost in the world as everyone else; however, I have hope good things are coming, to me and to all of you.

-Brooke

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