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I will gladly admit that I am a perfectionist. It is both a blessing and a curse. While I’m putting all of my effort into a product, I’m extremely tough on myself at the same time. People are always reminding me that there is no such thing as “perfect.” But to my perfectionist brain, it definitely exists, and I plan to achieve it. It’s a dangerous way of thinking and can really hurt your mental health, but it’s not something that you can easily come out of. Here are my confessions as a perfectionist.

I believe in perfect.

To my perfectionist way of thinking, there is a way to be perfect. Whether that’s always being organized or getting straight A’s, there’s always something in my head that defines “perfect” for me. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, and it’s even harder when you’re berating yourself because of a comparison. I believe in perfect, but I think there will be a time when I will realize that perfect isn’t real.

Sometimes I risk my well-being to be “perfect.”

This is a confession and an admission of a problem. When you’re trying to better yourself and grow in terms of your mentality, it is important to admit where you’re going wrong. All those late nights spent studying or perfecting a paper is not worth it. When you really think about it, it doesn’t make sense to put your physical and mental health at risk for a grade.

Effort and obsession often go hand in hand.

There are times when I will say that I am passionate about something or feeling really determined to work hard, when really, it’s just an obsession to get everything right the first time. Sometimes I get so excited about doing well on an exam that my efforts to study and do well soon turn into me only thinking about that one exam. Everything else in my life just kind of goes to the backseat. This is a tough pill to swallow because I like to think that I’m just hard working, but sometimes it’s a lot more than that.

I can’t always let go.

Just like I can’t stop thinking about getting something to be perfect, when something doesn’t pan out the way I want it to, I can’t stop thinking about what I could have done differently or what I could have done better. I begin to blame myself for things that are out of my control, and my mind can’t move on. This is a huge problem because if I am constantly stuck in the past, how can I ever expect to grow?

I measure my worth based on my achievements.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? That if I do well, I think better of myself than when I don’t do well. Putting my self-worth on material aspects of life, like getting good grades or achieving something special, makes me feel worse about myself even when I’m doing just fine. It’s almost as if I have to always do well to feel good about myself. But my self-worth should not be placed on grades. I should feel good about myself because of who I am as a person, not by how much I have achieved. This is something I’m always having to tell myself.

It’s hard being a perfectionist. It can really harm my mental health and often makes me feel less of myself. These are my confessions. They are problematic, they are flawed, and they need to change so that I can feel better about myself and the life I lead. It’s okay to be a perfectionist. It’s completely okay to feel bad about yourself. But remember that there is always room to grow and change, and perfectionism, while it has its benefits, is something that is best left behind. By living your life as your own and not by some “perfect” standard, you can enjoy life more and feel more confident in yourself and your abilities.

Ila Mostafa is currently a Neuroscience major and Biology minor at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family. She is usually either starting a new story without finishing an older one or studying. Ila hopes to go to graduate school and eventually do research on Parkinson's Disease.
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