Ah, that wonderful trait of perfectionism. I know many of my friends and family member don’t really consider me a “Type A” person; the words they use to describe me are more along the lines of “sweet,” “relaxed,” “calm,” and “humble.” Not that I am saying these wonderful traits necessarily describe me–I find it far easier to pick out five negative aspects of my personality than even one positive aspect. But despite my calm demeanor, I can definitely be a Type A person when it comes to school or ballet. Though my desire for perfectionism has definitely waned in recent years–thank goodness–I still possess that deep desire to do everything better, and rarely feel satisfied with anything I do. I scold myself when I get anything less than a 90% on quizzes or exams, telling myself I should have studied harder, paid more attention in class, or prepared myself better during my high school years. I get frustrated and upset with myself when I fail to execute steps cleanly in ballet class, even though I am good at hiding my emotions while IN class–it is only when I get home that I vent. I dwell on the past far too much, analyzing all the mistakes and stupid things I did over the years and berating myself for them. I often live in fear of disappointing my family, feeling that I MUST be super smart or talented to make them proud of me. And I know these fears are illogical; I know they will accept and love me no matter what. But that doesn’t stop me from worrying about it.
I know I am not alone in these insecurities and fears; I know many people deal struggle with perfectionism and that poisonous desire to do everything “right.” I know that my doubts and anxieties are petty problems compared to what some people are dealing with right now. I know that many people reading this probably have absolutely NO desire to hear me vent about my problems:) But I think these are issues that many people can relate to, since competition is a big part of our culture, whether you are competing for a job, to get into a college, to win a scholarship, to be the “best” actor, dancer, baseball player, musician, artist, singer, etc…Being a dancer, I know that it is extremely competitive in the ballet world–which is why I know that I could never be a professional ballet dancer. I simply don’t have the skills or talents necessary to “make it.” But even if you aren’t a dancer, you have probably experienced this sense of competition. And while I don’t think a bit of competition is necessarily bad, I think that it generally tends to divide us, rather than unite us.
For people with perfectionist tendencies, this cultural competition only serves to “feed the fire,” making us think that unless we are one of “the best,” we will be metaphorically devoured by those who are more talented or skilled than us. So we push ourselves harder and harder, beat ourselves up over mistakes, and eventually suffer from burn-out, plaguing doubts, and multiple anxieties. I think this is one reason why I have recently began taking yoga; it is a place where I can try to rid myself of these toxic thoughts, and focus on what is TRULY important in life–being compassionate, kind, generous, and helpful; striving to make a positive difference in this world; learning to be grateful for what we DO have. This is not to say I have completely overcome my perfectionism; I still suffer from needless anxieties, stress, and fears. And I know many other people do as well.
So yes, I still worry that I am not smart enough. I still worry that going to a community college will automatically make me fall behind, academic-wise, my friends in 4-year universities. I still get frustrated with myself in ballet class. I still feel as though I always need to do more, do better, push myself harder. But I am working on conquering these mental “roadblocks” one at a time. And for those of you who suffer from the same doubts, I know you can too:)
And so ends my rambling for today; please feel free to share your own opinions and thoughts.