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Thread: Realizing you aren't perfectionist (long story)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    Mar 2011

    Default Realizing you aren't perfectionist (long story)

    There was a time when I thought I was perfectionist, since I never seemed to get anything done despite having all these ideas of things I could do. I figured I must be a perfectionist, since I'd either start something & stop after realizing I'd already fallen miserably short of my standards, or else not even start to begin with due to thinking I couldn't do it. I'd sit back, take a look at the stupid-badass idea I'd just come up with, do a quick inventory of my skills & abilities, get intimidated by how amazing my idea was, then end by simply deciding it'd be impossible for me to do. This led me to believe, in retrospect clearly wishfully, that I had astronomical standards & was also far better at coming up with ideas than at executing them.

    I remember thinking this for quite some time, with mixed success. There was a strange comfort in it, though sadness as well. You get used to the sorrow of thinking you're a perfectionist, lying eternally short of perfection, because at least you're AWARE of how amazing things could be, while everyone else wallows in their gooey soup of mediocrity. It's easy to picture a person thinking they're perfectionist forever, without ever sliding into overt misery or self-hatred.

    But, it was a little after that that something happened. Something that made me rethink. One day I left my house, as I try to do all days, & went to class, where I was given a homework assignment. So angered by this, I did the homework immediately, & when I finished I gasped so hard I almost fell out of my chair. Here is the sound I made:

    *rapid sucking in of air*

    I suddenly realized I wasn't a perfectionist-- that, instead of having an awesome capacity for devising unachievable ideas, which I would then correctly perceive as impossible, I was actually just lazy & that most of my ideas were ones anyone could come up with, & then discard in the same way I had. I saw also that my standards, rather than being stupendously high, were in fact average or noticeably below average, & that I was just lying to myself because I was incompetent & couldn't even achieve basic quality in what little I tried to do.

    I saw I was using perfectionism as a shield-- not necessarily against failure, although that's what I initially wanted to think, to preserve some sense of nobility-- but pathetically against the fear which arises from realizing that your shortcomings at doing things are equal to your shortcomings in coming up with IDEAS for things to do. Some would call this a form of elitism, but even that's flattering. It's actually a result of being young & lazy & without effective social outlets for your endless neuroses.

    The day I realized I wasn't perfectionist but actually just lazy & incompetent was a big turning point in my life.

    & the BEST part is that being not-perfectionist is an even better excuse for sucking at things than being perfectionist. Because then you can just do anything. & when you fail at it, you're happy afterward instead of sad-- or just as happy as you'd be anyway. For example, if you have an essay to write, you can just scribble whatever ludicrous nonsense erupts into your head, & then when your professor asks you what you were thinking you can answer honestly: "I have no fucking idea. How do you expect me to do these things, I'm not a perfectionist!" He might try to argue with you, & you can go along & feel no shame if you lose, which you invariably will, since you're not a perfectionist.

    When did you guys realize you weren't perfectionist?

  2. #2
    Senor Membrane Array
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    May 2008


    Hmm... I'm not sure if I have realized it yet. In some ways I could say I have, I do stuff just to do them quite a lot these days, just for the experience and possibly to learn something. Like, now I am going to build myself a japanese meditation flute. I don't know how to built one and I don't know how to play. I probably won't even have any way of knowing if it is in tune or not. But this kind of thing is easy to do, just like you said, I really don't have to care if I am any good in this because there is no way I could succeed at this. But, what bother me are things I could easily succeed in if I could focus my energy at right times. I don't know if it is really perfectionism, since I see it like I got these short bursts of intense energy instead of a slow release most people seem to have. I can work around the clock a couple of days if I am in this mode, but then the energy goes down and I jump to some other project, or idling.

    EDIT: Oh, I had something to say as well I think that the point is maybe to realize when you should invest and when not. In the school world it often seems like the system is built to give you the feeling that you need to always invest a 100% but in real life (and in some more progressive school gradings) you most often don't need to invest that much, and it can be stupid to do so, since then you'll just be exhausted. It would be a better strategy to invest in areas you see as important to you. If you know that you'll never do something with some knowledge, why burn yourself out studying it? I think they would be smart to change the school system so that the active meaning of "studying" would be more prominent. To study is to be interested in the subject. Now it is more like "you need to know this stuff in order to fit into the society".

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