Perfectionism or rather being perfect or perhaps acting perfect, has become mainstream today. Media and society give this unattainable imagery of Perfection whether it be in fashion, entertainment, the education system and what not, there are set expectations, which often times leads to the overlooking of efforts that people put into what they do, in either of the aforementioned industries or educational institutions. Essentially, what I’m getting at is this, perfectionism has become a trend in this time and age, while people strive and put in unimaginable time and effort into their craft or career, most of them are still overlooked and are expected to be “more perfect.” Whatever that even means. But the striking question is this, is perfectionism toxic or a good thing?
Perfectionism as rightly defined is a personality trait that is identified by a person’s drive or striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, followed by critical self-evaluation and concerns regarding the evaluation or opinion of others. In other words, Perfectionism drives people to aim for or attempt to achieve goals and targets that are unattainable or unrealistic, which often results in them becoming depressed and having low self-esteem. This is the type of perfectionism that psychologists categorize as the maladaptiveform of perfectionism and the toxic one at that. While perfectionism can evidently be toxic, in other cases, it can be beneficial.
There is another form of perfectionism called adaptive perfectionism. This form of perfectionism leads or motivates people to reach their set goals and targets and it comes with pleasure from doing so. This form in contrast to the maladaptive form of perfectionism, is beneficial and does not leave the individual depressed or with low self-esteem. While perfectionism has its beneficial form, the toxic form of perfectionism is what has become mainstream today and it is why we have a great percentage of people, globally depressed and with low self-esteem. It is unfortunate that most employers will rather employ or work with a perfectionist than a non-perfectionist.
The interesting but unfortunate thing about perfectionism as we have it today is that most people that are a perfectionist as a result of the external influences from mainstream media and other means, do not even realize it. However, there are some others, that have by choice decided to become perfectionists so they can either land a job or while on a job or in their career, impress their superiors in other to get a promotion or become a straight-A student or remain at the top of their class as it is seen amongst students today. This has a detrimental effect, not just on your career or job but also your health and personal life. Maladaptive perfectionism makes you feel like you are not enough. The feeling of not being enough, even though you know you have put in your best, whether if it be in your career, your relationships or even your faith or religion as the case may be, is part of what leads to depression, low self-esteem and anxiety disorder.
I have personally been down the road of maladaptive perfectionism, and afterwards, I started asking questions, I came to this realization and wealth of knowledge which I’m sharing with you now, that regardless of what I do or you do, we are enough. So long as you know that you are doing your possible best, you are enough. So, if you have been experiencing anxiety, depression, low self-esteem (the feeling that you are not enough), I want to let you know that you are enough and you need to retract from trying to attain these unrealistic or unattainable goals and start setting goals that are realistic and that are according to your capacity.
There is a huge difference between dreaming big and setting or looking forward to unrealistic and unattainable dreams. Therefore, quit the pursuit of that career, job, or promotion, if it comes at the detriment of your health, especially your mental health. Don’t allow the external influences that promote this toxic perfectionism, especially vis-a-vis their expectations, to ruin you. Remember, you can still adopt perfectionism, the adaptive form, which does not cost you anything, but gives you the motivation you need to attain realistic and attainable goals and balanced life and health.