Striving for Perfection

Do you guys ever feel like you’re trying so hard for an outcome that you aren’t even aware of?

This last year I have been through multiple mental break downs, tons of therapy and a lot of internal work. I’m sure so many other people have too, considering the state of the world this last year. I just feel like I lost my mind a little bit. Everything was halted, I was laid off (as many other people were), I moved 20 hours away from any friends or family (aside from my immediate family). It was a lot of big changes in a very short amount of time. And as someone who does not like change at all, it was a lot.

Honestly though, all of these crazy changes kind of helped me out. I had a very severe mental breakdown last May. I’m talking crying every single day, hyperventilating, panic attacks that lasted for weeks. It was awful. So I did the only logical thing I could think of, I cried of course. But then decided I needed some intense therapy. So I found someone online who seemed like she could be the perfect fit and I made myself an appointment.

She specialized in Cognitive Processing Therapy. This therapy was no joke, we basically completely rewired the way my brain processed things. She ended up diagnosing me with PTSD, so from there we dove into my past trauma and dug up emotions and trauma I didn’t even know I had (do not recommend this therapy to people if you aren’t okay with feeling worse before you feel better). I am not going to go into detail here about the trauma, because it’s no one’s business, but know it was HARD to relive and discuss, even with someone I hired to help. During this time though, we discovered that I had this inherent need for perfection, constant perfection.

I guess I have kind of known since around 7th grade that I strive for this unattainable perfection because I went to school the day my house burnt down. I was so “dedicated” to those grades and there was no way I was missing school if I didn’t have too (to anyone who knew me in high school you probably think this is wild because I hardly ever went to school). Which looking back on it now is insanely problematic considering we lost our actual home but I digress. In therapy, I learned all these reasons why I was the way I was. My need for constant control, my need for acceptance, my codependent relationship with literally anyone I was close with and my constant need to be perfect.

The whole needing to be perfect thing would actually send me into full blown panics. If I got in trouble for any reason by literally anyone, bosses, teachers, anyone who wasn’t my mom (I will discuss this is a moment) I would make myself so sick with worry I would start to get physically sick. I had to constantly be reassured in romantic relationships, and constantly get praise at my jobs or school to feel like I wasn’t a failure. The only relationship were I didn’t struggle with this constant need to be perfect was the relationship with my mom. I put that poor women through hell my entire life, but no matter what I did, I knew she would always love me and have my back. So this whole need to be perfect thing was less overwhelming when I would talk to my mom, but then I developed this codependent relationship where I needed my mom’s approval for everything. And that actually just stopped being so detrimental this last year.

I used to be so obsessed with this idea of being perfect that if I would fail at something, I wouldn’t even continue doing it. I would straight up quit because quitting, in my mind, was better than trying and being a failure. It was so bad that if I failed a single test in my college courses, I just completely gave up in the class altogether. If I did poorly for one day at my job, I just stopped caring and would just screw off the entire time I was there. I had this toxic mentality about being a failure, when failing is just a basic part of life. Sometimes you have to be perfectly imperfect.

I had such a hard time accepting that imperfection was the norm and perfection was unattainable. It took 13 weeks of intense therapy to finally realize this. I still even struggle with it sometimes, but mostly I can accept criticism and use it to be better instead of it sending me into a constant state of panic. It’s so crazy to think that a pandemic sending my life into uncertainty was the key to me being the absolute best version of myself.

Did any of you have something similar happen during this last year? I would love to chat about all things life realization during a trying timeI

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