Motivation against depression: perfectionism

When you hear the concept of perfectionism, you might assume that it means to be good at everything, or wanting everything to be perfect. This isn’t necessarily false, but there is more to it.

Perfectionists don’t strive to be good at something by society’s standards, instead they strive to meet their own standards. In other words, they have their own idea of what it means to be the best at something. For example, learning to play the guitar. If a song doesn’t sound the way you think it should then it’s not good enough. It doesn’t matter that you’ve got the chords right or that your teacher thinks it’s good, it’s not good enough to you. This can go two ways: either you give up on learning to play guitar, or some other hobby, or you put so much pressure on yourself that your hobby now becomes a chore.

There’s nothing wrong with setting standards for ourselves, but we have to draw the line that prevents us from overdoing it. It doesn’t mean settling with writing a story, for example, that’s “good enough”, it’s learning not to judge ourselves too harshly by telling ourselves it’s “not good enough”. That doesn’t mean to say that everything you do should be left half done either. Acknowledging the fact that you mastered each chord of a particular song is an achievement, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t sound the way you think it should.

I have fallen into this trap of perfectionism with my crocheting. Each row kept getting longer or shorter, never the correct length it was supposed to be. Did I keep going regardless? Nope, I quit because I was afraid I would keep redoing the same patch over and over until it was perfect. So I have a choice: I could keep doing the same patch over and over again until it is absolutely perfect, or I could simply do my best and be happy with the results. It’s not an easy thing to do for some people, but once you learn to congratulate yourself on doing something you’ve always wanted to do, even if it takes times to be good at it, trust me it will feel good. Instead of striving to be the best, strive to make yourself happy and content.

Remember, nobody’s perfect.

What about you? Have you ever strived to be perfect at something that you either gave up, or turned something that was supposed to be fun into a chore instead? We are our own worst critics, unfortunately, but it doesn’t mean we have to accept that. Be proud of your achievements, no matter how minimal they may seem to you. You’re better at it than you were before you decided to do it.