I’m a perfectionist. And anyone who knows me will confirm that. Often with an eye roll. But those who really know me truly understand where that perfectionism comes from and what drives it. A few times over the past few weeks my perfectionism has come up in friendly banter but I’ve felt undertones of hostility and judgement. It’s seen as something negative and something you wouldn’t want to strive for and something you should certainly not be proud of. I’ve thought about perfectionism a lot over the past few days and I’ve come down to this – what drives my perfectionism? What is it that truly makes me want to be the best I possibly can, at everything I do? Is it externally driven? Do I want to do things perfectly to please others? Am I doing it for approval and favour? Or is it internally driven? Do I just have this innate need and desire to be the best version of me that I can for myself and my family?
I see perfectionism that is externally driven to be problematic – or rather it can be problematic if the approval of others and society in general is what’s driving your behaviour and thus dictating your life. I wouldn’t want this type of perfectionism for myself, nor would I be thrilled if my child started developing signs of it. But perfectionism that is internally driven? I think that is something that I’d be a lot more comfortable with and more likely to encourage.
So, what drives my perfectionism? My personal desire to be better. Better then the me I was yesterday. It’s driven by the knowledge that I am capable and hard working and this should be reflected in the quality of my work and what I do. My perfectionism is internally driven. I compete with myself every single day. I can’t compete or compare myself to others because that is unfair (to myself and the other person). But I am fair game, for myself. I know my story. I know my limitations and I know my strengths.
In jest I may call myself a perfectionist but I know what it really is, is a desire for excellence. A self-driven need and want to do better and be better.
Do you think you’re a perfectionist? Would you call yourself that?
And if you are, what drives your perfectionism?