I spend days at a time in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking of all the things I could be doing but can’t because I know I would do them imperfectly. I lose countless hours to inner monologues filled with self-hatred and all-or-nothing thinking. I don’t read anything, instead preferring to slowly crush myself with the existential weight of knowing that I will never be able to Read All The Things.
For a very long time, I thought that I did this because I was lazy. I figured that if I just worked a little harder, tried a little more, then I would be able to accomplish the things I set out to do. Failing to do them was a failure of my character. It was because I was a bad person, or at least bad at being a person.
I told myself that I had to get my act together; I had to do all of these things so that I could prove I wasn’t the worthless piece of garbage I thought I was. When I inevitably cracked under that pressure, I took it as proof that I was a worthless piece of garbage.
If all of this sounds repetitive, that’s because it is. It’s a vicious, repetitive, monotonous cycle. It moves at breakneck speed, but also not at all. Experiencing it is the most damning case against perfectionism I have ever come across. Expecting perfection only leaves you with two options: do everything right on the very first try, or don’t even bother. Which is actually only one option, since 9 times out of 10, human beings don't do things right on the first try.
Jenni Berrett writing in Ravishly