My Perfectionism Self

This is the third week in a series about the multitude of “selves” that come together to create the person people know as “Megan Fackenthal”.  For more information on the general idea of this, please click here.

This week, I’m going to talk about my perfectionism self.

This self may be the hardest for me to admit that I have.  It isn’t that I think I am perfect.  Philosophically speaking, I do not believe in the “ideal of perfection”.  Therefore, I don’t even want to be perfect.  That being said, I do strive to be better and, I’ll admit, I strive to be the best.  This creates in me a competitive nature that I often try to squelch.  However, this also compels me to want to do my best work in all situations.

[I’ve psychoanalyzed this aspect of my personality so many times now that I cannot count how many.  Through journaling and through counseling, I have developed a good theory as to how this aspect came to be.  While I have found it interesting and helpful to know this and I’ll be happy to share that information should anyone ask for it, I won’t be outlining that today.]

The “ideal of perfection” is a myth.  The “ideal of perfection” tells me that if I was just better at doing something or if I looked more like Jennifer Aniston or Jennifer Lawrence or if had a video blog instead of a written blog or …. you get the idea …. if I was perfect in some way (or all ways) my life would somehow be better.  If I was perfect, then all my relationships would go smoothly and I would never have another worry.  If I was perfect then I’d get the job that would make the money that would lead to a lower stress level that would make all my problems go away.

Reality, thankfully, looks very different from this ideal.  Reality loves the mistakes; it loves messy.  I have experienced and I believe with every fiber of my being that those places where people struggle, where people have needs and are able to ask for help, where people can peek out from behind the mask that says “I’m just fine” are those places where truth, beauty, and love shine and stronger relationships are formed.

When I see a lot of self-pity or a lot of shaming or blaming in my journaling – I know that something has poked at my perfectionism self.

For instance:  There are times when I make a mistake (and this can be the smallest of mistakes or it can even be something where blame truly needs to be shared between myself and others), and I let that mistake define my identity.  I think to myself, “If I am the type of person who would make that mistake (and as I already have so I obviously am that type of person) then I must be someone bad.”

Here’s the really insidious, dark-side, of this aspect of my self —> due to my beliefs as I stated above about reality, in order to be “more perfect” one has to be comfortable living into the messy. Therefore, when I’m anxious or fearful or unable to live into the mess, when I berate myself for making a mistake (as my perfectionism self is want to do) then my perfectionism self further berates me because now I’m failing at being messy.

The only way that I know to break the cycle of the insidious, dark-side of my perfectionism self is to shower her with grace and to show her that I am living into those messy places.  By failing at being messy – I am being messy!  I am showing her that those relationships from those messy places are more meaningful, more life giving than anything the ideal of perfectionism could ever accomplish.

Slowly, I’m learning to love my perfectionism self.  I’m learning to love that I am competitive, I love that I take pride in what I do and what I say.  I love that I believe that my words carry impact and have meaning; when I say that I will do something you can depend on me to do it.  I love that I am continually striving to be a better version of myself and hopefully, through my own small way, that can make the world a better place.