Overcoming Perfectionism in College

When it comes to school, I am a die-hard perfectionist.

All A’s, all the time, anything else is unacceptable. I don’t even like A-s. I am not sure when my obsession with grades began, but it has lasted through the years and into college. Seriously, the last time I got a B was in a 7th grade math class and I was not a happy camper. I take so much pride in bringing home that 4.0 GPA, especially in college. On top of being a 4.0 student, I’ve also always been in involved in numerous activities. Having a busy schedule on top of school just swelled my pride that much more.

Lately I’ve been getting a little crazy about it. If I miss one class I worry about attendance policies; if I bomb a quiz, or even score a B, it stays with me all day; and I calculate how many points I need on every single assignment to get that “Final A.” It has gone from my mom questioning my focus if I received an A-, to her telling me that “It’s okay to get a B, Em, really.” Not only is it a personal goal anymore, but also something that family and friends have come to just expect of me. While I know it won’t matter in the long run, I worry about their opinions of me changing or thinking I didn’t try or couldn’t do it.

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This semester, however, for my own mental health, I am loosening the reins on myself. I am enrolled in 18 credit hours, am involved in 5 clubs, 4 of which meet 1-2 times a week, and just started a new job. Not to mention I may be starting my Honors Project and a potential internship soon. All of this on top of social life, staying in touch with family, maintaining a relationship, and having time for myself.

With all of this going on, I absolutely have to let go of my obsession with a perfect 4.0. I’m not saying I am not aiming for all As or am giving up, but I am giving myself the grace to do/be less than perfect. I have to accept that with such a busy schedule and a few tough classes I may not obtain the perfect grades I want, and that is okay. It is certainly not going to be easy to let go of years of being that obsessive perfectionist, but it is something I need to do for myself.