Most people think that perfectionists have life figured out: They set high standards, they work hard, and they reap the rewards. However, perfectionists know that life with strict, self-imposed goals is far from easy. Still, no matter how many times we hear that perfection is unattainable, we will never stop chasing excellence — even if that means we have to endure a lifetime of the following issues too familiar to perfectionists.
1. We Are Not the Same as Overachievers
Perfectionists and overachievers share a lot of the same symptoms, but they truly aren’t the same neurosis. Both groups set similarly high goals, but overachievers generally are satisfied with any degree of success, while perfectionists must attain perfection, or we experience the regret, guilt, and unending stress of failure. As a result, we often procrastinate, trying to delay inevitable disappointment even as we are pushed forward due to fear of inaction.
2. We Won’t Be Caught Dead in Asymmetrical Clothing
One-sleeves, one-slits, high-low skirts, and other lopsided fashion trends aren’t daring — they are dreadful. Designers should know by now that symmetry is the essence of beauty. Striving to be asymmetrical is like trying to be ugly, and we perfectionists simply cannot stand being less than flawless.
3. We Can’t Watch Movies Without Pointing Out Errors
Just try to take one of us to the movie theater, and you’ll be thrown out 30 minutes later for all the talking we do. Even though directors tend to be perfectionists themselves, most movies contain a heaping handful of continuity mistakes and other issues that always make us cringe. Movies shot on-location tend to be worst of all because weather issues can cause obvious delays and differences, and sometimes location landmarks in the wrong city can be totally visible. Still, we’ll go to the movies as long as you don’t mind us gasping and pointing — and if you buy us popcorn with precisely distributed butter topping.
4. We Always Arrive Precisely When We Mean To
We might drag our feet when we have projects to turn in, but if an invitation says 9 p.m., you can expect us to be there at 8:30 at the latest. Perfectionists do not know the meaning of “fashionably late,” and to us, “on time” is definitely “absurdly early” to other people. As an aside, if ever you have the fortune of being invited to a perfectionist’s party — a rare occurrence, considering the energy and expense of excellent extravaganzas — your host will be affronted if you appear any later than she would.
5. We Have to Apologize for Saying We’re Sorry
Because we are plagued by guilt and feelings of inadequacy, perfectionists have a bad habit of apologizing for anything and everything. Even worse, we usually don’t feel that our apologies are perfect, so we have to apologize for that, too. It’s a never-ending cycle, and we’re sorry about it.
6. We Will Always Miss Being in School
Whenever someone says they hated school, we whimper. School is a perfectionist’s playground, with all sorts of authority figures just waiting to provide praise. The structure of school makes sense to perfectionists: Work hard, get rewarded. Unfortunately, success in the real world is not as obvious or easy to achieve.
7. We Don’t Take Teasing Lightly
Criticism is hard for perfectionists to take, even when it is well-intentioned. Most perfectionists see negative reviews as personal attacks, and instead of rising to the challenge, we get beaten down and depressed. Thus, when friends or allies tease us or make fun in any way, we have a hard time reacting properly to the joke. Instead of witty repartee, we perfectionists prefer artful puns, which usually do not send us into self-loathing.
8. We Hate Opening Up
Perfectionists hate flaws — especially their own. We have a hard time being vulnerable because it forces us to expose our flaws to other people. Many of our closest loved ones might assume they know us, but usually, we have only shown them our strongest face, revealing nothing of the insecurities below.
9. We Don’t See Our Own Success
Despite perfectionists’ appearance of control and confidence, we are usually absolutely crippled by uncertainty and self-doubt. Though you may think we found success, our low self-esteem tells us that what we have now will never be enough.
10. We Need You to Stick Around
For all of these reasons and more, perfectionists need loved ones in our lives to tell us when we are being crazy. When we screech at your unbalanced outfits, when we squeal in the middle of movies, and when we cry for days after coming in second place, we need you by our sides for comfort and support.
Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com