If you could be without boundaries and you could have everything that concerns your life under your control, would that not be just the perfect life?
If you could control every factor that would affect every one of your decisions in such a way that you never make a mistake, never fall short at any point, would you jump at that chance?
But as it is, that deliciously perfect life is always a step away from us. It is like that magic Isle in ‘Aladin and the Forty Thieves’, the ‘Vanishing Isle’. It never appears in the same place twice. And when it does appear in a certain place,it stays on a few minutes before going under again. It keeps moving. We keep chasing.
But most humans have given in to compromising and finding a way to at least, have it good enough.
There are however, some people who not only believe that it is a possibility to have the perfect life but believe that they have what it takes to get it and they can not live well without getting it as they want it. These folks we call, ‘The Perfectionists’.
These are people who believe that perfection can be achieved with enough effort applied in a particular way and by following specific rules. The experts have termed this mindset ‘Perfectionism’.
”Perfect. How can you define a word without concrete meaning?” ~ Ellen Hopkins.
This quote should give a quick glimpse into one of the shortcomings of this type of thinking. Although the dictionary defines ‘PERFECT’ as ‘having everything that is neccesary; complete and without faults or weaknesses’, there still is no universally accepted picture of what ‘PERFECT’ looks like. This means that each perfectionist paints his/her own picture of perfection and strives to have it just the way it has been painted in his/her mind.
Let’s get real. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the pursuit of a life that you believe will make you happy. But the world is never a comfortable place for an extremist. And that is where the snag is. Perfectionism in its extreme form eventually does more harm than good.
We should take a look at who the perfectionist is.
First of all, studies show that there are three different types of perfectionists.
We have those who feel that the world holds out a card on them, always watching to record their next mistake, to see whether they meet a standard or not.
Then we have those who feel the world and its inhabitants owe them and should keep up to a standard of perfection to please them.
And then we have those who view themselves in the light of what they can achieve in really high standards. These ones don’t set the bar a step higher. They want to fly over the whole of the thousand miles all in one leap; just for the pleasure of inner satisfaction.
But they all have certain traits in common.
In the eye of the perfectionist, life is broken. And he believes that by paying attention to every minute detail, it can be fixed and held up together again.
There is a crunching desire to have real life as the exact and direct reflection of what it is they have in mind. Even a succint interpretation is below par in the eyes of a perfectionist. It has to be what was conceived. A slight alteration that may even seem better or is said to be good enough by others is taken as a sign that they did not do well enough.
To the perfectionist that sets standards for himself, compliments and appraisals are viewed as flattery and patronization. Or worse. He could see those who sing his praises as honest mediocres who have no idea how much better a certain project could be.
Most times, these perfectly reasonable opinions and desires of the perfectionist sounds like ‘simple gibberish’ to someone who has learned to enjoy just the best that life offers.
Take this as an example. I remember a young girl back in Juniour Secondary School, class 2, who would not write with a pen of a different colour other than black in her notebook. This was not just because she loved the colour black. She just felt grossed out to see two different colours in the same book.
This one time she had a pen mishap and had to borrow a blue pen from her classmate. She tore out a sheet of paper and wrote on it, with the intention of transferring the note when she could get a black one. Her seat-mate looked at her like she was crazy.
I still think she was perfectly normal. I don’t know what your own opinion of that is. But that is just a one simple example.
Perfectionism is, in many respect, multi-dimensional. It is the kind of state of mind that can ultimately lead to the creation of a well ordered life or lead to a neurotic obsession with trying to find that order and perfection.
The key word might be balance. But before checking out how a perfectionist could live a fairly ordered life without turning into a nut case, how about taking a look at some specific characteristics of a perfectionist?
Do you know anyone around you that is one? Or are you?