• Akshita Rai Shrivastava

What is Perfectionism and How it Affects You?

Do you see yourself as a Perfectionist?

Congratulations, today you’ll learn that it is not something to be proud of. I swear that the previous statement isn’t a joke, no matter how much society has glorified perfectionism, it is not a good thing after all. When I say Perfectionism, I don’t mean the motivation to excel or compete. Wanting to excel at the things you do in your life is a good thing, but expecting yourself to be on the top every single time is not. Perfectionism is just that, the unrealistic expectations out of oneself to be the best no matter what the conditions are. The thing is, it is not harmless, it can cause ample mental disorders.

It has been proven that Perfectionism can cause Depression, Anxiety, Eating disorder and other mood disorders to people of all ages. Though, youngsters are more prone to suffer from Perfectionism as we are living in an age where everyone except us is doing great. Anyone born after the ’90s growing up in a rather competitive world. A world where grades were everything, and being the best seemed to be the only way to get validation. Even if you were not someone to lose their mind over grades, you might have known someone who did. Like the girl in your class, who would cry for getting a 98. The truth is she wasn’t faking it, she might have been suffering from Perfectionism.

Academics aren’t the only area where people strive for perfection. This behaviour is prevalent in all areas and different people find themselves trying to be perfect at different things. There are sportsmen who lose their mind after losing a game, corporate employees who can’t let their colleagues do better than them and teenagers who starve themselves to look perfect. The problem is that these people can never be satisfied, which is because their expectations from themselves are so high that they can’t possibly reach it.

I once read about this student who got depressed after getting an A+ because he had to work hard for it. He thought that if he had to put so much work into getting an A in college, he won’t be able to make it in the real world. There are thousands of examples of Perfectionists who are never satisfied. Curing Perfectionism is not an easy task, because most people who identify themselves as Perfectionist were raised to behave this way. To understand this, let us learn about the types of Perfectionism.

Types of Perfectionism

  • Self Oriented Perfectionism: This happens when someone demands perfection from themselves. It can develop at an early age, if children find that certain behaviour of theirs is much appreciated, they force themselves to behave in only that particular way.

  • Other Oriented Perfectionism: When other people in someone's life expect them to be perfect. This develops when parents force their children to behave in one way and one way only, like getting straight As.

  • Social Oriented Perfectionism: When the sum total of all external social factors suggests a person be perfect. Social media is a classic example of inducing such behaviour among youngsters.

How Perfectionism Affects You?

Perfectionism usually becomes a part of a person's life at an early age, but that doesn’t mean it leaves them with age. As a Perfectionist grows older, this tendency keeps on getting worse and worse. Striving for perfection is not easy, it can ruin a person's sense of self-worth. This is because no matter how much they do, it doesn’t seem to be enough. They even start feeling like a complete failure and then shy away from even trying to do something. They ultimately obsess, procrastinate and try to control everything at the same time, resulting in a lot of stress. The worst thing remains to be the fact that they cannot share their sorrows as that will ruin their perfect image in front of people.

Perfectionism is doing more evil than good in our overly stressful age of competition. It should not be something that is glorified, it should be seen exactly as what it is, ‘an impossible scenario’. Psychological researches prove that Perfectionism contributes to a large segment of suicides. The urge of being perfect is killing people and it is time we stop that, by no longer holding ourselves and others to unrealistic expectations.

One method to do that is by seeing your inner perfectionist as another person. When you see yourself from the outside, you develop compassion towards yourself. This compassion can aid in getting back the lost sense of worth. So, if you or someone you know suffer from perfectionism, make sure they know that it can be cured. If seeing yourself from a different perspective isn’t enough, maybe it is time to get some professional help.