Whether we’re aware of it or not, many of us spend a lot of time and energy trying to be our version of ‘perfect.’ From editing the same selfie for hours to pulling an all nighter to study for a test, perfectionism is ingrained into our society. Some of us even see it as normal and just another aspect of life. How do we overcome such a big part of our lives if we sometimes don’t even recognize it?
It’s important to understand what perfectionism actually is and that there are three different types that can affect us.
Self-oriented perfectionism is what typically comes to mind when thinking about trying to be perfect — imposing unrealistic standards upon ourselves and being too self-critical. Socially prescribed perfectionism is the typical high school worry — it is the feeling that everyone is judging you and that you you have to be perfect to avoid rejection. Other-oriented perfectionism is the reverse, where you have unrealistic standards for people and are judgmental toward them.
These different types of perfectionism are usually all interrelated and can create an array of problems — some of the worst include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, body dysmorphia and in extreme cases, suicide. It may seem like being perfect is too deeply influenced by our surroundings, but there are a few strategies to help you get out of this circle. In order to combat these three types of perfectionism, try out these three simple solutions.
Failing Does Not Make You Weak
This can be a really hard concept, especially while in school, but it actually is okay to do poorly on a test, miss a deadline or mess up while giving a presentation. If these things continuously happen, it should be fixed, but it’s important to resist a competitive mindset and pushing yourself too hard. Instead of being too afraid to fail, focus on furthering your understanding of things and your whole life experience. Rather than faking a ‘perfect life’ and never messing up, make a few mistakes and grow from them — your future self will thank you.
To put it simply, no one can be perfect and people will always find something they would change about themselves or their lives. Social media portrays the ‘perfect’ version of ourselves and rarely shows our true selves. This can become problematic and lead to feeling the need for acceptance. Loving yourself isn’t always easy, but it can make a huge impact on your life. Focus on being yourself, and always embrace who you are — things are only flaws if you make them flaws. So, treat yourself — buy your favorite snack, hang out with friends tonight, hit the gym, take a nap! It’s okay to be selfish every once in a while!
Being perfect is not something that anyone can ever reach. If you find that your goals are too overwhelming or make you self-conscious or nervous, try knocking them down to something more attainable. Reaching a bunch of smaller goals will make you feel so much better than trying to tackle a giant one. Instead of wanting everything to be perfect, focusing your energy into traits like diligence and flexibility will get you much further in life in the long run. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be better, but you should improve yourself and your life in a safe and healthy way.
Everyone struggles with self-esteem issues and wanting to be better every once in a while, but if you find that this seems to control your life, consider going to CAPS or a professional to get advice.