The Art of Perfectionism

I’ve always considered myself to be a perfectionist. I tend to overanalyze things, I strive for excellence, I often get stressed over projects, etc, etc. But I had never truly considered what makes me a perfectionist. What is the defining point for someone who is a perfectionist? Is it simply the desire to be perfect?

Recently, a friend told me about a Huffington Post article that revealed to her that she was a perfectionist, although she never thought she was. Thankfully she posted the link to the article on her blog. (Read her blog here. It’s one of my favorite blogs that I follow!) I decided to take a look at the article and analyze myself. Am I a perfectionist?

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I reference the article throughout the rest of the post, so check it out for yourself!

You’ve always been eager to please. Yes. While I don’t mind offending people for something I believe in, I like to avoid conflict with my friends. I live by the phrase: “I achieve, therefore I am.” More on that later…

You know your drive to perfection is hurting you, but you consider it the price you pay for success. Yup. I’ve always considered myself a perfectionist (hey, I get it genetically), and so I’ve just accepted that I’ll have to suffer through my perfectionism to get where I want to go.

You’re a big procrastinator. Not really… I tend to get things done when I say they’ll be done. Being a homeschooler, though, I am guilty of putting aside schoolwork I really don’t want to do or don’t “have time” to do. And I can relate to what the author is saying. I tend to avoid things I’m worried about failing. (Such as this one project I have… yikes! Better get on that!)

You’re highly critical of others. *Honesty alert* I tend to think the worst of people. And like I said previously, I overanalyze. I’m learning to look at things from all angles. It’s a growing process, and one that I can definitely see God working.

You go big or go home. All the time. This is why I have always struggled with art and music–I want them to be perfect. I tend to take on projects I know I can succeed, and I tend to regret taking on projects that I feel like I failed.

You have a hard time opening up to other people. No. I enjoy sharing with people and finding people whom I can relate. However, certain issues and certain people I do have a hard time sharing.

You know there’s no use crying over spilt milk… but you do anyway. Um, yes. Little mistakes often ruin my attitude. And often I have stress meltdowns over things that don’t matter in the long run. Sometimes it’s just better to let go.

You take everything personally. Unfortunately, yes I do. Well, unless it’s true sarcasm (from someone I know actually cares about me).

… And you get really defensive when criticized. Yeah, I like to defend myself when I’m wrong. Even on graded papers. I know, I need to get over that.

You’re never quite “there yet.” College applications. ‘Nuff said.

The image below makes you nervous. Absolutely! My parents have always emphasized being different than the world. And since a very young age, I have always strived for excellence. A lot of it comes from being a first born child; some comes genetically.

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You take pleasure in someone else’s failure, even though it has nothing to do with you. No. I hurt for other people who have failed. I guess that’s part of being an über compassionate person. However, I do find comfort when someone else has failed in the exact same thing that I have. But I still hurt for them.

You get secretly nostalgic for your school days. Well, this doesn’t quite apply to me yet. But I’ve always enjoyed school, and I enjoy having a grade to measure my success.

You have a guilty soul. A lot of my anxiety and stress stems from the self-imposed need to be “perfect.” Guilt sets in when I can’t “measure up.”

Perfectionism = 11; Non-perfectionism = 3.

Diagnosis: I am a perfectionist.

The drive for excellence and doing our best is, however, a desire from God. We should desire to do our best in everything. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” As God’s children, He has also created us for more. I am made for more than the things of this world. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

The other side to perfectionism opens up a perfect (hehe!) opportunity to talk about what God has been teaching me lately. I do not need to be perfect. The Bible never says anywhere that we need to be perfect. In fact, nowhere in the Bible does God say that he is disappointed in His children. That word just isn’t used in correlation with us. We have a misconception that God regrets making us, so we need to live up to a certain expectation. But that is a lie. Romans 6:14 says, “…you are not under the law, but under grace.” What does that mean? Simply that we do not need to live as if we’re trying to “measure up” to something. Jesus’s death on the cross took away the need to be worthy of His love and approval. I do not need to be worthy, because Jesus is worthy enough for me. 

Cling to these truths! Claim them as your own! If you’re like me, accept that God has made you to have perfectionist tendencies, but don’t let them keep you from living under the banner of grace. 

– – Phebe

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