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In my past career-life, I worked in Human Resources. Over the course of almost two decades, I interviewed thousands of people.
So, with confidence, I can attest to the fact that one of the most cliché answers to the question, “Tell me about a weakness you are working to overcome”, is, “Well, I’m a perfectionist.”
Not only is that a huge lie – they do not consider it a weakness (and they’re hoping the interviewer will secretly see their over-achieving as a plus), but they also have no intention of working to overcome it.
We often hear people within our circles humble-bragging about how they have “OCD” (they don’t actually think they have “real” OCD) or that they’re a “perfectionist”.
Before you get defensive, please understand, I am of whom I speak.
I’ve spent the better part of my life worrying myself half to death over anything and everything, most of which I can’t control. (I published a post about my worrying back in September, and some kind strangers on Scary Mommy helpfully pointed out that worrying is a form of OCD…).
As a younger person, I’d had the imagination that my perfectionism was something to be proud of. I was neat and clean, got things turned in on time, didn’t disappoint my boss very often, was seen as a “hard worker”, dedicated and detail-oriented. I liked being a “go to” person people could depend on.
Until I wasn’t anymore.
You’re Perfect and It Could Kill You
As I got older, the cracks started to show. Keeping up wasn’t as easy, and I’d started to forget who I was. Trying to be everything to everyone, fit in, or excel, got harder and harder.
Stress became less of a last-minute deadline thrill, and more a chronic state of “this might actually kill me one day”.
This post on Tiny Buddha, The One Thing You Need to Know to Overcome Perfectionism, does a beautiful job of highlighting the why behind our perfectionism, and unfortunately, it’s the opposite of being an extreme overachiever who just wants to excel. It’s a fear based way of living your entire life, all based on feeling worthy of being loved and accepted. The more perfect we are, the less likely we are to be rejected.
So, that hurts.
This post on Health, Why Perfectionism Could Be Killing You, explains the anxiety behind perfectionism.
I’ve noticed that one of the things that has helped me these last few years is to see people unafraid to be themselves. Their real, flawed, imperfect selves, and they’re so happy. It encourages me to let go a little more, slowly but surely.
Recently I published a post about vacation photos, and asked readers to send me their funny ones. I received this one from a good friend of mine who explained it was the best shot they could get that year:
Not that it’s that bad, but It’s refreshing to come across people who are comfortable in their own skin, and no matter how seemingly perfect they may appear, will show you they’re like everyone else.
So, any brave souls out there who want to share their perfectionism story with me? I promise, I seriously do know how you feel.