Breaking the Curse of Perfectionism
I was lying on my bed, feeling dejected.
It felt as if the world had come crashing down.
When my mom returned from school (she was a teacher), she looked at me and immediately knew something was wrong.
After some tantrums and some tears, I told her the truth: I had scored only 16 out of 20 in my math exam.
I was merely 8–9 years old then.
I am both angry and amused thinking about that situation.
But it makes me realize that the tendency to be perfect has wreaked havoc in my life.
I always want things to be perfect and do things in a perfect way.
This is especially true when it comes to professional work. I wait for the situation to be perfect before taking action. Often, it leads to procrastination and working until the last moment.
And a huge part of it is due to the upbringing and conditioning that happens in schools.
I was an “ideal student” in many ways.
I was wary of being judged, looked down on, or not meeting the expectations of teachers and parents. The homework was perfect. Holiday homework was excellent, even if it required parental help.
I don’t blame my parents, they never pressured me to do anything.
But, I don’t remember them telling me that it was okay to get 80% as well.
In fact, I rarely remember being outside the top 3 in any class or scoring below 90% throughout the 12 years of my school life.
I am not boasting because it has harmed me in more ways than it has benefitted me.
It is simple to do well in school and on exams that test your ability to cram. It is not that I did not try to understand things, but the primary focus was on getting the answer right.
It is this relentless focus on getting answers right that made me a perfectionist.
I do not remember having fun or having a playful approach to learning. There was always this seriousness, and that is how everyone perceived me as well.
Real life is not like that.
You do not get the right answer every time. Sometimes you do not know the path to the right answer. This often leads to procrastination because you are not even willing to start doing something unless you know the exact path.
But, the best work happens when you are willing to experiment & do things out of playful curiosity.
This is when you are okay with imperfection and uncertainty to walk on a pathless path.
This is when you are okay with producing bad work.
In other words, you are willing to fail in terms of school exams.
That’s how you break the curse of perfectionism.
Have you ever struggled with perfectionism?
How do you deal with it?
Hit reply and let me know! 🙂
Until next time