There’s more to life.

Whilst reading an article in December’s issue of Cosmopolitan entitled “Goodbye little miss perfect” I felt my heart beat fast and I realised how much I related to the content. If ever questioned, I would label myself as a serial perfectionist, yet I have never really sat down and considered the damaging effects of the personality trait. It’s human nature to have feelings of not being good enough and we all tend to fixate on our failings. Particularly around this time of year, we all start to think about how we can better ourselves, whether it be by exercising more, eating better, quitting that bad habit, taking up a new hobby or finally doing that one thing you’ve always wanted to do. Yet what happens when the desire to improve is extreme and actually has an opposite or unhealthy effect?
At the age of 14, I developed anorexia. The disease had innocent beginnings, as a certain holiday picture spurred me into a new diet. I was eating healthier, and feeling more positive towards myself. My perfectionist nature soon took over, as every single thing I ate was calorie counted and I would punish myself for not following my own strict rules. Falling into this obsessively controlled regime meant that I began losing a scary amount of weight, but being hungry made me feel in control and comfortable. I feel like this stemmed from my innate trait of extreme self-criticism and the thought that I can always do or be “better”. Every failure in my life is extended in magnitude, as I am displeased with anything below my own unattainable standards. Being able to limit and condition my food intake and increase my exercise level meant that I finally was “succeeding” at something, and this pleased the perfectionist within me.
Thankfully, I found I didn’t like how skinny felt or the effects it was having on my health. Still, to this day, my perfectionism remains. Setting yourself goals is healthy, but only if they are achievable. I feel under constant pressure to be doing something productive, yet fixation on this succeeds only in making me waste hours on Youtube and feeling guilty about it. Placing so much pressure on the work or goals I need to achieve means I end up shying away from them, rather than viewing them in a positive way. This also means I’m unable to cope with making mistakes, and I will fixate on them for an unhealthy amount of time, which just leads to feelings of anxiety.
Despite the fact that such self-criticism comes from feeling inadequate, perfectionism is very narcissistic and makes you seem very self centred. There is more to life than yourself, and constantly moaning about all the things you did wrong or didn’t achieve is very tiring and boring for people hearing about it. This article has taught me a few things: The world shouldn’t revolve around your personal failings and its ok to give yourself a break. None of us are perfect, everyone makes mistakes and personal goals will be achieved one you allow yourself time to fail or struggle with them.
Repetitive self-criticism is damaging, doesn’t benefit anybody and only succeeds in giving you the unappealing aura of “woe-is-me”
So my new resolution (they don’t always have to come with the new year) is to head towards a life with less worry and self punishment. Essays get written the night before, everybody looks different, you really cant please everyone and (breaking news alert) EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES.
BeyoncĂ© once said that “perfection is a disease of a nation” and if the Queen says it, it sure as hell is correct.

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