The Blue and Gold

Perfectionism

Fiona Lee, Writer, Editor

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Perfectionism is sometimes viewed as a positive character trait, but it isn’t as good as most people think. Perfectionism is the refusal to accept anything less than perfection. Perfectionists usually have a low self esteem. Perfectionists consider even the tiniest mistake a failure. Perfectionists have a fear of making mistakes and believe that making mistakes mean they are a failure themselves. People with perfectionism focus on the result rather than the process leading up to the result.

Perfectionism often leads to procrastination because they need extra time to mentally prepare the details or because they think that they won’t be able to complete the task “perfectly.” Researchers says that perfectionism often leads to distress, avoidance, anxiety, and self-condemnation. Perfectionism can develop into depression and eating disorders, and is a symptom of OCD. Perfectionists also have a higher risk of suicide.

Perfectionism can be passed down or developed. Personal standards and self-criticism are the two types of perfectionism. Personal standards perfectionism is when an individual sets high standards to motivate themselves even if others think those standards are high. Self-criticism perfectionism is when an individual is intimidated by their high goals because they believe they’ll never reach them or complete them “perfectly.”

Perfectionists are more critical of themselves than others, while being highly critical of others as well. They beat themselves up and/or become depressed if they don’t achieve their goals perfectly. Perfectionists set ridiculously high goals and standards. They find it difficult to accepting that they aren’t the best and feel relieved when someone else fails. They obsess over their previous mistakes and constantly spot mistakes others don’t see. Perfectionists have a fear of failure. They get their tasks done in a very specific way and trust no one but themselves to do it, spending a great deal of time on a specific activity to make it perfect. They also have an all or nothing mindset.

Overcoming perfectionism is a slow process. Recognizing the issue is the first step. Perfectionists then have to look at their situation realistically, and decide if their perfectionism is running their life. Reexamining personal standards, looking at the big picture, and setting more realistic goals are crucial steps in breaking the cycle of perfectionism. Perfectionists need to think of mistakes as lessons they can learn from, instead of failures. Perfectionists need to look for the positives in themselves and love and respect themselves for who they are, rather than continually comparing themselves to others.

Most people think that perfectionism is a good quality, however the opposite is true. Many students and children, as well as adults, suffer from the cycle of perfectionism. Often, parents encourage their children to be perfectionists by simply questioning why their child has a B+ instead of an A or an A+. Perfectionism is slowly destroying people’s lives. Working hard, doing your best work, and trying to get things right is good; however people are human; humans make mistakes; humans are not perfect.

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