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Mental Health

The Overlooked Upsides to Being a Perfectionist

On social media, everyone talks about the downsides of being a perfectionist: the anxiety, the overthinking, the mental exhaustion, etc. As a perfectionist myself, I am grateful that I'm not the only one who notices these things. However, it's impossible to stop being a perfectionist, so if all we focus on are the downsides, life becomes pretty depressing. Hardly anyone ever talks about some of the positive things about being a perfectionist.

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One of the upsides of being a perfectionist and having a Type A personality is that I often hyperfocus on everything I do. This may mean I need a little extra time to work on assignments, but I make fewer mistakes this way. Few people possess the ability to hyperfocus on a task because it is natural to get distracted. However, because perfectionists need to get the best results, hyperfocusing is often a side effect of the way our minds work. Something important to note: hyperfocusing on a task is often a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which sometimes goes hand and hand with perfectionism.

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While perfectionism can sometimes feel like it's controlling your life, the desire to make everything "perfect" can be a positive thing. For example, I find that if I listen to my perfectionism and organize the things in my life that need extra attention, it actually calms me down instead of making me anxious. Sometimes listening to that little voice in your head that tells you to clean your room, write out a to-do list, or organize your purse can actually be beneficial to your daily routine.

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Free time

Don't get me wrong, perfectionism can be overwhelming, but sometimes the mental strain can force your mind to rest for a while. If I have a stressful day of trying to get everything done perfectly, then by the end of the day, my mind is too tired to think that way anymore. Then, at the end of the day, I end up having a free hour or two to rest and relax. Having that time to relax is exactly what my mind needs to rest up for the next day!

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No Need to Worry About Procrastination!

Everyone deals with perfectionism differently, and for some of us, that means it takes longer for us to accomplish a task. However, this isn't the same as putting off a task until the last minute. While some people thrive on procrastination, I find it more comforting that perfectionism forces me to have at least a plan or outline in place before I start on a task. The unfortunate downside of procrastination is that tasks are often accomplished late or are rushed, but at least we perfectionists the task accomplished exactly right!

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Remember - you're not the only one!

Our personal struggles can make us feel so alone and cut off from the rest of the world. When I first began exhibiting signs of perfectionism in school, I felt so alone. I didn't realize that there are plenty of other perfectionists in the world and always will be. For example, I was named after the painter Claude Monet, a fellow perfectionist whose hyperfocus on his work led him to become one of the most influential artists in world history. Serena Williams and Sylvia Plath are also some well-known perfectionists. It's important to remind yourself that you're not alone and that other people are trying to adapt to life as a perfectionist too.

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I'm part time yoga teacher and a full time reader. I never miss an opportunity to listen to audiobooks on a car ride, or to read ebooks during breaks in my classes. I'm a senior at Susquehanna University where my major is creative writing with a minor in women and gender studies.
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