My life perpetually sits on the corner between perfectionist drive and procrastination way. I rotate around a crack on the road to progress, constantly going around and around in a vicious cycle of unrealistic expectations, self-deprecation, project regeneration, and reduced productivity. Anyone who says that perfectionism is about being perfect is wrong. Rather, it is about searching enduringly for imperfection. And it is absolutely exhausting.
I recently read a psychological review rebuking the relationship between procrastination and perfection. And it completely broke me. To be clear, my entire existence has operated around beginning tasks and never completely concluding them because everything has the potential for improvement; an unfortunate reality that inescapably leads to a deep-seated fear for beginning tasks in the first place. What this new theory told me was that I was not only inadequate at the things I did, but also inadequate at how I did them. It told me I couldn’t even be a perfectionist correctly (another failure to add to my never-ending list of un-achievements).
There’s another psychological theory that defines perfectionism as an adaptive trait. But this theory oversimplifies the problem. It fails to recognize the innate differences between reaching for extraordinary goals and reaching for extraordinary perfection. The first achieves an A+ with satisfaction, attributing success to hard work and a job well done. On the contrary, the second perceives the A+ as a failure because I shouldn’t have to work so hard to get the perfect grade, and my thighs are too big, and I have bags under my eyes from not sleeping well enough anyway. You see the problem.
All the little imperfections that cloud my vision with red ink are assassins continuously subtracting from success. They add to my body image concerns, my confidence issues, my sleep disruptions, and my trust anxieties until absolutely and without uncertainty even the triumphs become losses. No matter how I try, there are always improvements to be had and imperfections to be fixed and the little red X’s continue to multiply until I can’t possibly see anything positive, only the darkened negatives of the whole picture.
So here I sit, on a decrepit bench at the corner of perfectionist drive and procrastination way, muddling through task after task. I revaluate and reconstruct until the inevitable time comes when I can no longer fathom beginning another project because this time, the weight of all the little imperfections might extinguish my light completely.