On my shoulder, there lives a small tyrant. Self-criticism makes him happy; anxiety satiates him nicely. His name is Perfectionism and he is my tormentor.
Perfectionism makes us feel terrible— the need to have things ‘perfect’ drives us to exhaustion: we keep going past the point of being done, under the guise that ‘good enough is never good enough for me’, but this place is fed by anxiety and self-criticism, so it is never actually satisfied. Because, let’s be honest, perfectionism isn’t actually about having the things we do ‘perfect’, its about having ourselves be ‘perfect’, and no amount of Instagram filtering is going to make that happen. Perfectionism is, in a sense, trying to finish everything and capture it in time, trying to hold on to a moment, like a curl of smoke rising from ashes: clutching a feeling that comes only from having everything just right. And only then will we be worthy; only then will we be good enough.
You’d think that, if I knew the tyrant was there, and knew where he was, I’d want to get rid of him— brush him off onto another unsuspecting person; let them fold all of their underwear and organize it by color and leave me in peace.
But the thing is, I know that this tyrant comes from the same place as my love of beauty. The feeling that I get from crisp clean sheets, or an exquisitely punctuated sentence is incandescent. And its so innate in my personality: I could no sooner change that than I could my eye color or that I love lemons. It feels, in a way, like a higher calling: like there’s something holy about order, and that feeling of everything being in its right place makes me feel as if I, too, am in my right place.Read More