Perfectionism

It has been a while since I last wrote anything for this blog. Life has gotten the best of me and dulled my creative process to the point where I feared my ‘fire’ was gone. Ideas for my story lacked, no poems came to mind and I didn’t feel like I had anything important to say. I promised that in line with my New Years Resolution I would blog more but I haven’t stuck to my goals as readily as I should, despite them being stuck on both of my walls and glaring at me at all times of the day.

Safe to say, it has been a rollercoaster. This month of January has threatened to topple, destabilise and impede my growth by throwing me every obstacle it can find. I’ve fallen at many of those obstacles. I will not lie and say I managed to hurdle each one as they came because I did not. Some I tripped over, others I tried to duck underneath and hit my head. I even tried to 2-step a few, only to find the only way was up. I’ve had to jump. Which means rise above, to get to where I want to be. And the finish line is still a long way off.

In this post, I want to talk about the importance of portioning – something I myself, am guilty of not doing. Being the extremist that I am, I am privy to throwing myself entirely at something or abstaining completely – there comes no mediocre, no median or in-between. It’s unhealthy and a faithfully faulty doctrine but it’s how I’ve survived for so long.

If I can’t do something the way I want it done, why should it be done at all?

My desire for perfectionism in all realms defies all logic. It is my way or the high way. Imagine a threshold you can’t quite reach, and when you do it is brief and short-lived. I think of it as a spring. I press down on myself for a long period of time in recuperation for the leap I am about to make then leap to reach my goals. Lately I’ve been missing these goals. Even though the time I spend gathering energy is often much longer and requires more strength than other, I fall short. And I’ve put that down to the indomitable self-doubt I’ve been battling for the past few months. Such doubt is inextricably linked to the battle with perfectionism I battle with everyday.

I’ve always dealt with perfectionism in my work – academia, creative and extra-curricular. But I’ve been looking in the mirror lately – both figurative and literal – and evaluating the perfectionism within myself, and I realised I am so far from the person I want to be. Entitlements of love, freedom, friendship, forgiveness and other traits I convinced myself I was endowed for no longer seem like my calling. Not that I won’t achieve them. But I’m seeing them for what they are and that is, mutual understandings. Someone has to appreciate my sorry to forgive me and love me back in reciprocation. My excessive expending and spending does not entitle me to a response. I can only do me.

But for so long, the ‘me’ alone was not enough. It sounds crazy. But if I sent an email to someone who is usually very responsive and didn’t get an email in due time. It could be crippling. I couldn’t shuttle the response to the back of my mind and get on with work. It would weigh, like a ton, particularly if the email was important. If I received a call and my voice wasn’t ready, I didn’t answer. Same way I’d meaningfully blank messages. Ignorance was bliss. It’s an example of not being resilient. Of not being ready to move on. It’s that lack of mutuality that I’ve been despising from others that I’ve been imposing.

But the difference is… I care. Maybe the care is more pronounced because I am speaking subjectively but the communication I am engaged in is often not of equal scale. I could be asking for something important. Yet when the person replies, I don’t read the response as quickly.

That’s where the perfectionism lies: you’re not replying on my terms but your own.

But isn’t that what humans do?

No, not all. I don’t.

I drop everything at a moment’s notice when someone asks me to do something, however menial. Whether that be a favour or a task – it could take days, it could take a minute, I drop things. At the expense of my priorities, then wonder why my life is messing up. My personal life is messing up.

I know I need to stop. I need to start taking caring for myself better. For instance, it’s been 72 hours, within which I haven’t had more than 6 hours of sleep. Because I’ve put myself on the back-pedal whilst everyone else has been putting themselves first. And it looks like I’m winning still (and I kinda am) but imaging how much more I could win if I made myself as much of a priority as I did someone else?

And when I say that I mean in every element of my life: health-wise, emotionally, academically, socially. I can do it. I know I can. It takes one to know one and it took me a year to fully evaluate who I’ve become and why I’m not necessarily deserving of everything I request in life. Particularly at my own timing. Experiences have shaped me to the point where I am growing and my reliance on everything being perfect is waning which is bittersweet because I never saw perfectionism as a flaw. I thought doing the best in everything you do was a great trait – a sign of ambitious resilience. But I now know I wasn’t doing the best in everything I was doing. I was sacrificing myself for others and that is self-sabotage – that is suicide.

My reliance on everything being perfect has to stop for me to grow and in doing so, caution must be thrown to the wind.

It’s a daily, uphill, steep and long journey that I am admittedly not ready for. I’d much rather stay in my safe-zone of being 0 – 100 for perfectionism sake.

But now I know it’s okay to be 50, 80 or 20.

As long as I don’t stop.

These last few days have proved I am capable, I just need to persevere.

And I hope I can. I hope I will. It won’t be easy.

But no-one ever said life was fair.

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