Perfectionism is not so perfect
Admitting you have problems can be surprisingly difficult. We are such good liars when it comes to lying to ourselves. We are also living in a time where social media really screws up your perception of how the world really works. News are on the other side of the spectrum. That leaves you stuck between racing towards the good life and escaping the heart-wrenching depictions of the world that you see through the lens of the news channels. At least, that is something that I have and continue to do to this very day, because the alternative is to let the negativity soak into me and I know I won’t be able to handle that.
I have over the years created a vacuum for myself, allowing only the good bits to surround me and mindlessly liking the Instagram pictures of people I barely know. This vacuum has made me a friendly and positive person, or so I thought. The problem is the negative and the positive are supposed to balance out and if they don’t the negativity still finds a way out in very unexpected ways. And when you look up close you see that my friendliness is really people pleasing bordering on Codependence. My non confrontationalism allowed my negative emotions to eat me up from inside. I became an insecure hot mess with low self esteem. My positivity blinded me into thinking that my perfectionism was a good thing because that was what was driving me to become better. The only thing is, it’s impossible to be perfect and you are never going to feel good about yourself when you compare yourself to others. All of this has been piling up until very recently when I finally realized I have a problem and I should do something about it.
My days have turned gray and the food lost its taste. So I decided to see a psychotherapist who diagnosed my depression and sent me to see a psychoanalytic. I was afraid because knowing myself I would stop fighting once I got an excuse in the form of a diagnosis. But the surprising thing was that when I finally did go it made me feel so much better. It helps when you have someone to listen to you but it is so much better when you get advice on how to pull yourself together. I was in a vicious circle, thinking in the same pattern for years, trying to hide from the fact that everything was not okay. It was nice to be guided through that entangled jungle of thoughts into an open field. It wasn’t easy because I finally had to start admitting to myself the hard truths about my work life and about my personal life. I had to finally admit to myself that I was a coward and that was causing most of my problems. I had to admit that I care more about what people think than I let on. The biggest revelation was seeing what a dreadful impact my perfectionism has had on my life. I have never allowed myself to take credit for my achievements. Even now a little voice inside my head is saying: What exactly are you calling an achievement?
I was proud of seeing the world as a colorful spectrum only to find out that I have been living a black and white life where it’s all or nothing. You either do something really well or it’s a complete failure. And that idea of failure fueled my fears and kept me from trying new things. Looking back on it now I am surprised that I ever tried doing standup at open mics. I always thought it was because of my perfectionism to become a more interesting person, to overcome my fears of public speaking. Now I think that maybe I did despite my perfectionism, because my sets are mediocre, or at least that is what my little voice tells me. He seems to be the only one and yet his opinion has been the only one that mattered. Standup was a way to release my negative energy. I had to admit at one point that my best bits were those where I was very passionately enraged. It was a way to vent. It was good because now every time something bad happened in my life I could always think: Well at least I have some material for my set. But then even that stopped.
I once heard someone say that hate is not the opposite of love. The opposite of love is indifference and that is what I have been feeling towards almost the entire world. Even the thought of death didn’t feel as sad or frightening anymore, though I have not considered anything as extreme as suicide. Now I can explain to myself why I stopped writing. It’s hard, but talking things out with a professional who you know will not judge or feel hurt. by what you say really helps. I needed to finally start being honest because I can’t afford to keep seeing a shrink for years. So I had to go through the uncomfortable conversations about my sex life and about my childhood, luckily the latter was absolutely fantastic. So the conclusion that I draw so far is that I need to accept myself and stop trying to be perfect. So the new things I am trying out are:
- If I am being lazy — I enjoy it;
- If I want to read a chick lit — I don’t make up excuses and just enjoy it;
- I have stopped trying to be someone sophisticated and started trying to figure out what I really like.
When the Quarantine ends I plan to dress up and finally start feeling beautiful, but I am also working on it now as well. I have come to realize that your appearance may be important, but your confidence makes you seem so much more beautiful. It’s a matter of perception and your own attitude. It’s not going to be easy, because it’s hard to think of wanting to do something really well as a bad thing. My little voice hasn’t gone anywhere. I am aware of it more than ever now. My psychoanalytic advised me not to ignore it because that would only make things worse. So I will just be aware of the distortions it creates and maybe challenge them at times. My problem was I was trying not to think negative thoughts. That did not work. Now I am going to acknowledge my negative thoughts and make sure they don’t make my life unbearable. But most important of all I need to learn how to love myself. I would suggest you start doing the same.