Let’s talk about you for a bit. I mean, really talk about you. Let’s go beyond the all-too-familiar song called “Perfection is Unattainable.” You have heard that one nearly a million times over. And I have a feeling that you are not interested in broken records so I have decided to set the record straight instead.
So, let us talk about the tenacity and work ethic you possess. Let us discuss your eye for detail that shows whenever you execute your craft. Let us talk talk about the passion that drives you to attempt executing it in the first place. Yes, that is the part of who are that needs the spotlight.
When I think about folks like you, I instantly think of artists. In fact, it is likely that you are some sort of artist yourself. And among the various kinds that exist in the world, my heart will always have soft spot for the visual artist, especially the ones who draw. Their ability to transcribe our three dimensional reality onto a two dimensional surface is nothing short of genius. Talent aside, there is a level of precision and methodology required to make it happen, ones where celebration ensues when they master a technique and frustration that brews when they fall short. Finding fellow perfectionists who are passionate about drawing is not a surprising thing to encounter.
Much like many visual artists who draw, creative perfectionists are constantly finding ways to take abstraction and turn into something concrete. It is a feat that reflects that of the Divine, the One who is known for creating something out of nothing. And perhaps that is why, as a perfectionist, you can be hard on yourself; you are putting a Godlike standard on your human self. And I think that is an idea worth exploring.
Your high standards are not necessarily unattainable. In fact, your high standards are a reflection of what you know you are capable of, especially considering the fact that you have attained excellence in the past. I believe that by demonstrating your genius in your high pursuits, you are reflecting the Divine. And that is worth celebrating.
But perfectionism is a funny thing. It is a contradiction contained within thirteen letters. The same thing that makes you strive for excellence is the same thing that can murder your confidence. The very thing that is responsible for your eye for detail is also what makes you blind to your positive moves when you notice your flaws. Your drive that is inspired by those who are also on the road to greatness can be put on pause when you think you don’t measure up to them. The same thing that reflects deity is the same thing that causes you to come face-to-face with your flawed humanity. And you may not be pleased with what you see. Perfectionism is a double-edged sword indeed. And it is time that we dull one edge and use the other one to your advantage.
Comparison can be the thief joy but it does not have to be. Always striving for excellence can be the thief of self-worth but it does not have to be. It is admirable to care about what you do and how you do it. Not everyone does that. It is a good thing to acknowledge the good work in others, praise them, and have them inspire you to do better. But it should never be what drives you to belittle yourself. It should never be the thing that makes you feel that you need prove your worth as a human being.
Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. -Dr. Seuss
And there is no one alive who can execute you better than you, flaws and all.
A recovering perfectionist who relapsed last week and needed to hear these words too.