An Open Letter to a Perfectionist

Perfect: a term meaning “ideal” or “flawless,” yet it has a pressuring and powerful effect on those who are perfectionists.  

To the girls who wished their hair was less frizzy, skin was smoother, and features were more proportional. To those who wished that A- on their transcript was an A. To those who wished they started that volunteer project last semester and managed their time better. Hang in there, you are perfectly normal.  

Perfectionism is something that we hear in everyday language: “She’s such a perfectionist!” and even, “She has a touch of OCD,” are common phrases. However, perfectionists feel much more anxiety and stress trying to make every action without criticism and flaw, every single day.  

If you are anything like me, you are a goal-setter. You know what you want, you know how you are going to achieve it, and you are going to do everything in your power to make it happen. Maybe you are shooting for that journalism internship or that marketing position. Maybe you want to outline the entire chapter for your communications class, but are worried of starting before class because it is not “the perfect time,” to begin meticulously color-coding the lined pages in your notebook. Perfectionism is rooted in fear, and in order to escape that fear, you must be cognizant of your potential weaknesses and appreciate that they make you who you are.

I know that you also sweat the small stuff, too. A conversation with your friend that did not go exactly how you had hoped may linger in your mind for hours, even days. A misspelled word via text may irritate you, despite the fact that you included an asterisk next to the accurately-spelled word in your next text. All of this consumes your brain, your functionality throughout the day, and your health.

I know that you desire to be the best at everything, but that is not feasible. The jack-of-all-trades approach may work for certain elements in your life, but you will find more peace and more enjoyment in focusing on one or two things that make you happy. For me, that is writing and spending time with the people I love.

I know you do not give yourself enough credit and believe there is always something to improve upon. I know you are not only confident but also productive. I know that you have good days and bad days like everyone else, but I know you have the most difficult time accepting the bad days. You want everything to be perfect, everyone to see you without flaw, and everything to work out.

I know you are reading this and silently agreeing with the words on this page, but are too timid to accept it because acknowledging a flaw is not in your perfectionistic handbook. I get it. I truly do. However, you must make the effort to put less pressure on yourself, because you will be flooded with flourishing fulfillment from this point on.

Take a step back and appreciate what you have and the person that you have become. You have worked relentlessly and passionately and sometimes, you simply need a break. Go outside and smell the roses, instead of noticing that one imperfect wilted one in the garden; you will spring into a stress-free soul whose motivation is still “perfectly” intact.