You are perfect?-Who, me? No, I am not.


Hi all,

How are you all doing? I hope everyone is doing good!

I want to discuss some issue that came up in a discussion with a friend. I thought a lot about this issue before too and I wanted to share it with you.

The issue is perfectionism. The idea that you cannot make mistakes and whatever you do must be perfect.

I lived with that idea for the biggest part of my life and I still carry traces of it. My perfectionism in my earlier years revolved around my academic scores, coming from a country with many nation-wide exams. Up until college and even after that (in my MA years too), I worked to get the perfect score. I was always very close to that. But now in retrospect, this obsession with academic perfectionism prevented me from doing literally anything else in life. I stopped writing stories so I can focus on school. I am a physically active person and I have always been, but I could not become an athlete (I believe I could have).

Now, I see traces of that perfectionism in different areas of my life. For example, I have been learning German for a while (intermediate level) and I still am afraid to speak the language. For some reason, I want to sound like a native German-speaker as soon as I open my mouth and we all know that is unrealistic.

I have a fear of driving (I have a driver’s license but I don’t drive). There are different reasons for it, but I think one reason is that I want to get everything right in my first try. We know that cannot be either. Most people (all?) learn by making driving mistakes and they fix it for next time. This perfectionism, along with other reasons, is preventing me from driving at all. Who knows, maybe some other things that I don’t want to try is because I want to get them perfect in my first try.

Since I noticed these patterns in me, I have been working on improving them. One major milestone in that process is to convince ourselves that we need time. Nature does not hurry. We should not hurry, either. Another point to keep in mind that that time needs to be used with consistent efforts. Otherwise, it will be just empty time. We need to keep trying; progressing step by step.

Do you notice perfectionist patterns in your life? What are they? Do you think perfectionism is good or bad for you? What do you do handle the perfectionism? Let’s discuss.


80 thoughts on “You are perfect?-Who, me? No, I am not.

  1. I heard a phrase a few years ago that resonated with me. “Don’t let perfect get in the way of better”, meaning that we need to celebrate areas in which we are becoming better but don’t look too far in the future where ‘perfect’ lives. We will miss the celebration of our ‘better’, today.

  2. I personally don’t suffer from this but it seems like a negative trait. We have to allow ourselves to enjoy doing things whether we do them well or not. Perfect is when you do your best, and when you do things often you begin to do them better. The only thing us humans can do perfectly is be ourselves and if you suffer from perfectionism you won’t do that. So overall perfectionism causes us to not be perfect in the only area we can be.

  3. No one is and no one can be perfect….the perfect scores one gets in junior class should not be confused with being perfect .that is just a miniscule part if life….the major part of life is about trials and failures ….you attempt things which interest you…things which attract your mind and soul…you succeed at times and fail on some occasions ….just not attempting due to fear of failures is being fool hardy…fear of failures cannot be allowed to dictate life decisions….

  4. I think perfectionism in many people can come from a place of not feeling they are ever good enough. They have trouble excepting themselves for who they are in the present. This is a problem because it makes you anxious about the fact you’re not doing or achieving something. OCD is widely recognised as an anxiety disorder – similar to perfectionists (although on the extreme end of spectrum) in that they feel everything has to be just right – or perfect – before they can carry on their day. The problem is perfect is an impossible standard to measure yourself against. As Candy Morgans quoted “Don’t let perfect get in the way of better” which I think so many of us do. We use all sorts of distraction techniques like tidying our entire home (something I use to-do) before doing the work we should have started with. Forget perfect, just be better. That’s always enough!

    I’d also add that meditation is a great way to figure out why you might feel you’re not good enough – to really explore the emotions behind your perfectionism. Something that helps me too is to define my motives – to make sure that what I’m doing (ie my work) is about doing something bigger than me – in order to help others for example. I find I often stop worrying about being perfect because I’ve not made it about me. You end up simply wanting to do your best for others or the cause.

    1. I really love every sentence of your comment. I do believe that I was not accepting myself as I was at the time and trying to be perfect was a reflection of that. I also love that quote. It is so true!
      In fact, meditation got me out of this pattern in the first place:)

      1. Glad to hear it! I completely understand. I often fall victim to the same thoughts and feelings. Just trying to be a little better each day and help others do the same. Together we are stronger. Wishing you all the best 🙂

    2. Such wise words. It can be too easy for us to procrastinate away from doing something we really want to, just because it seems daunting because we haven’t started it yet!

      We all need to believe in ourselves and take that first step. We won’t excel at everything, and some things we try simply won’t be for us, but what we will have after trying them is experience and knowledge we didn’t have before. And that, is something we will get nowhere else.

  5. Hi There.
    Nobody can be perfect, but perfect in my opinion is:
    When somebody makes a mistake and learns from the mistake by not making the same mistake again.
    As long as you know in your heart that you did the best to your ability when doing something, that is perfect.

    But for myself Personally, I will never quit when I do something, until it is my perfect (until I am satisfied).

  6. I don’t know where she got it from but my daughter has done this her whole life. If she couldn’t be good at something immediately, she would just give up on it. Luckily she will take her own time to go back to learn. The biggest was reading in first grade. She had no interest and fell behind the class. She got some extra help so now she is okay with it. You need to learn to read right? Another was her bicycle. She refused to try and would only ride a push scooter. Then when she was eight she taught herself to ride her bike in one day. I guess she will be okay as long as she goes back to important things and learns them in her own way eventually.

    1. Everyone has their own learning patterns, so hers might be just a different way than ours. It should be ok as long as she starts not doing things at all.

      1. I think she is fine. She has a natural artistic talent and can draw really well. She also picked up bass guitar and learned very quickly. As long as she goes with what she likes I think she will be okay.

  7. Hi Betul,

    I’ve been tackling perfectionism throughout my whole life. I perceive it more as means of mastering every sphere that you are interested in. It is tiring, though: sometimes you need to take a break to appreciate what have you done because of being dissatisfied with something.

    Perfectionism can either take all of your energy like an illness or motivate you to take one step further to achieving your goals. It is a personal choice how this gift will be deployed.

    If it weren’t for it, I would not have been at the stage I am currently in. I am grateful for what I have achieved so far and I look forward to my future victories.

    – Love, Tinna

    1. If it works for you, that is great. Maybe it works differently for different people. I also did achieve a lot with it, no denying that. I just think that it also made me tired.

  8. I’ve been in your shoes too. Being a perfectionist is so tiring. I’ve started accepting my little flaws and celebrating small progresses. It feels more relaxing than ever before.

  9. It’s very relatable. There are lots of things I don’t know and when I start learning something, I just want to be the best. I really expected to be best at first time, even once while shooting(laughable, I know). That day I learned why losing or feeling that this perfectionism is a myth is important. . I discussed sort of the same issue from a different angle. Now I try to do everything that scares me, face it head on. It’s a long way.

  10. My perfectionism shows up as a fear of failure. I take it personally when I don’t live up to a certain standard and then fear others are judging me.

    One thing that helps me is to realize that others aren’t even paying that much attention! Being “good enough” often gets you just as far as being perfect. High standards are fine, but holding yourself to them no matter what isn’t always necessary. Relax!

  11. When I was in the uni, I’d always wanted to come out with the perfect marks in my exams. That was aiming for the impossible because no lecturer gave a 💯 per cent score. That’s just by the way.
    I have learned that there is no such thing as ‘perfection by effort’
    If anyone has ever done anything perfectly well, it’s by chance or miracle and that is also in the dream world. So I give up trying to be perfect, I try my best possible. I know I can get close to perfection like 80%, so I try to take a few steps towards bettering whatever I do. I have it in mind that it’s life long effort since perfection is an illusion and like a mirage it disappears on reaching it, to show itself at a distance luring one along, if I keep chasing it, I’ll lose focus and get lost.

    1. It is good that you were able to get yourself on the right path. It is a great success! I agree that there is no perfection we can achieve because if there was, we would not have a reason to live anymore. Life’s purpose is to improve each moment.

  12. Can relate to this trait. I’m still trying to live a life without the need to have everything perfect. I’ve tried to hold onto the quote “better done than perfect” which for me is the difference between being stuck in overthinking, second guessing, procrastination, fear and whatever else standing in the way. I’m definitely not as bad as I use to be but it’s still a battlefield.

  13. No one expects “perfect” — not customers, teachers or clients or most bosses. If asked, most can’t define what “ perfect” is. The Navy boys have a nice phrase. “Perfect belongs to a higher pay-grade.” It’s the speed, attitude and accuracy in fixing problems when they occur that people remember, far more than the error itself. Life happens. And if your boss wants perfect, make sure he defines it. Better, do you really want to be working for him/her?

  14. There’s a saying I picked up when I entered the workforce 45 years ago, “Good enough for government work.” It means that it barely meets the standard and not one iota more. The saying came about because there are work situations where exceeding minimum standards is discouraged for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. Heavy sigh!

  15. Thank you for sharing. I very much relate to it. I think it has stunted a vast area in my development. Not only has perfectionism slowed my progress in some parts, it gets in the way of something worthwhile, and in many a case halted some projects I have started. Have a pleasant evening.

  16. This reading really blessed me. Though I never crave for perfection and it has different meaning from me. But yes I do realise that this is where the problem begin. In the path of perfectionism we underestimate our learning.

  17. In many ways I view perfection as the outcome of wanting to do things “Right.” So I won’t be wrong or imperfect. It’s as if I couldn’t perceive of myself as anything called perfect so I needed to have every single person I encountered experience everything I did as correct. That was exhausting.
    Each and every one of us is a singularity, the only one having this one time experience as a place of reference. How could that not be perfect? Nothing can be compared. Each of us is the rarest of rare gems in the universe. Perfect doesn’t begin to describe that state. Thanks for this post. I am extremely interested in the subject.

  18. I know I beat myself up about not being or doing things perfectly which results in a snowball of negative emotions. So based on that perspective, perfectionism is a negative. As humans if we do our best that should be worth more than being perfect 😊

  19. I think we all go through this, they call it Impostor Syndrome, even the most successful face it all the time. It has been my faithful companion over the years but thankfully it has not prevented me from “Just Do It” most of the time. This way I learned languages even though I sounded very funny at first, but you know the native people respected me more for trying. The same with my Art, I am so far away from perfect or my imperfect writing but if I do not put it out there I would feel so much worse and would have missed great opportunities. You only need to make the first step, life does the rest and then you can’t hide anymore! There is a great little book called “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”:)

    1. I am more on that side now too, but I needed to work on it for years. There are still some things that I postpone, but I will get there. It is the better way to live, really.

  20. I have struggled with perfectionism for a while too. Wanting the perfect grade and sometimes dismissing my social life. Wanting the perfect relationship forgetting that nothing is perfect, it can come close but never will be.

  21. Three thoughts … Betul
    There is a saying “If something worth doing it is worth doing well.” There is a counter point to this: “If something worth doing it is worth doing badly”; meaning, if some thing is worth doing, it is worth doing. Full stop.

    Perfection and imperfection are concepts that don’t exist outside of a concept. If we look at a flower or say a snowflake carefully we will see slight asymmetries, Does that make them more or less perfect. Flowers and snowflakes just are.

    And to the heart of my point, could we have been otherwise? If we are a result of cause and effect then the answer has to be an emphatic “No!”, If we are the the result of some uncaused cause then, the answer is also “No!”. .So ultimately we cannot be other than who we are.

    1. I love all three of your points. The last two add up to saying that we need to accept who we are as we are. The first one, I love it too. We just need to take the first step and do it. Thanks for sharing!

  22. I can totally relate to this! I also have problems with driving like I know how to do it but i’m afraid that I would get it wrong so I try not to. Same with writing, I have lots of drafts but I don’t post them yet until I think it’s perfect. It’s frustrating but i’m still trying to get over this perfectionist mindset and just do it! Great post! xx

      1. You’re welcome! I guess it will take some time and practice before we become more confident enough to fail and succeed.

  23. It’s important to note that one will definitely make mistakes. If you have it in your head that you’ll be perfect every time, you’ll hate yourself and feel like you’re not doing well simpy because you expect things to happen in a certain way. Striving to be perfect is good but being obsessed about being perfect is a problem because perfection isn’t totally possible, there will always be flaw or something will come up.
    So for me, I do my best. If I fail in my striving for perfection, I don’t beat myself up about it.

  24. Yes! This is a great post. I definitely recognize the tendency. I, too, struggle with my perfectionist leanings. I am a new artist who shies away from putting my art out there because I think that it is not ‘good enough.’ I am trying to let go of all of those insecurities. tBlessings and 🙏🏽, Lydia

  25. Perfection is a disease if it leads to guilt, suppression of happiness, if it creates relationship issues or loss of valuable time.
    Perfection comes at a price. Everyone is perfect in their own uniqueness adfing colour and drama to life.

  26. This race to achieve perfection has two sides and it is important to understand what side you fall. 1. Is it coming from within you or 2. Is it a result of how you want to appear in front of others. In order to resolve this, we must slow down, think and become more self aware- what is it that I am actually seeking?

  27. I don’t tend to focus on perfectionism in fact I expect to not be good at most things I try. I know it sounds bad but that often stops me from even trying. Excepting less than perfection isn’t easy but I try to learn from my mistakes and not let my presumptions stop me. It’s tough though. This was a very thought provoking post! Thank you.😁

    1. In my attempt to escape perfectionism, I think I have also settled less than I could do and sometimes, I found it hard to motivate myself. I know it is hard to reconcile.

  28. Healthy interpersonal relationships have their problems. If all seems “perfect” then someone is not being honest. It is normal to be imperfect as human beings.

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