From Painful to Pain-free Perfectionism – [Just Me]

A while ago I ran into a Tumblr post about “grind culture” describing how there are people who are perfectionistic in regards to how they should be working, studying, living, and that reminded me of my fellow fans of the dark academia aesthetic and the studyblr tag. Here is the post:

I talk about perfectionism a bit whether I’m blogging or writing an article and it’s because it’s something that empowers me and haunts me. Although I’m so incredibly excited to be working on my psychology degree and in love with the course material so far, I had a meltdown over a quiz that I failed. I cried and panicked for nearly an hour and had to spend another hour calming myself down. In hindsight, I felt ridiculous, but more than anything I felt powerless. The perfectionism in me has developed into something that makes my mood swings and anxiety incredibly difficult to control. Therapy helped, but the feeling of shame took more time to work through.

I go through this as a writer too. What I was really worried about after my meltdown was my inability to handle something as small as a failed quiz leading to my inability to brace for subjective opinions about my work and career path. It was all revolving around a small failure that was hypothetically turning into a gargantuan failure. So after meditating on this, I came to the quick conclusion that first off, I was so tired of being this mean to myself; I truly do love myself so being unnecessarily harsh feels like a regression in my pursuit for better emotional and mental health. Then, I decided to challenge my view on what a “failure” is. At my core, I believed failure means shame and punishment. To challenge this core belief, I switched from calling my failures into mistakes. Failure can have a crassness to it, but “mistake” reminded me of the classic term “learn from your mistakes”. After that, I could look back at the quiz as a lesson about my mistakes.

What I learned was incredibly helpful. I took notice my anxiety levels while studying and doing any exercise, quiz, or whatever that “tests” me. I learned that instead of expecting perfectionism, I could strive for excellence, which to me requires an open and teachable mind that enjoys the process of self-improvement (You know, the whole “it’s the journey, not the destination” thing). I balance this out by thinking about my health logically. For excellence to happen, my brain needs rest, my body needs care, and my soul needs joyful reminders of my ambitions and aspirations. Although I did make sure to follow a schedule so the workload each day wasn’t more stressful than it already was, I didn’t take myself to the rigidity of grind culture I used partake in a long time ago in a elementary charter school far, far away almost until grad school. Knowing my personality, I’m already in that frame of mind where I want and will do my best. There’s absolutely no need for me to make my perfectionism into a monster, when its brought me so far and polished my work ethic. The most important lesson from that silly quiz was… don’t take the quiz if you’re panicking about the time limit more than the material. Lol.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that. Now that I have a decent routine with my psych classes, I can return to my writing routine. I am so glad my structure has returned and is solid enough to try new things.

Have a good one.

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