Perfectionism is something that most people strive for in their daily lives. It could be perfectionism in how they look, what they cook or how they work. The boss sees perfectionism as a hard worker that strives for the best. A spouse sees perfectionism as someone who does the most for the family. How do you see perfectionism?
I strive for perfectionism because I want to be the best. Not mediocre. Not good enough. Only the best will do.
What don't you see?
Hobbies: You don't see the person who has taken everything they loved in their life and mastered it like it was a college AP course, and then decided it wasn't fun and rewarding anymore - it was work.
Let me give you a few shining personal examples:
- Photography - It started when my mother-in-law lent me her camera to take photos of her son playing baseball. Once obsessed with photography, I used to lug my camera with me EVERYWHERE. Child slipped in the mud? I have a photo of it. Every day memories - Photos of it. Family parties - Photos of it and every single person there (which came in handy when people passed away and no one had photos of them.) Soon it transformed into photos of my kids playing sports. People started to ask me if I'd take their photos. That's when it started to become work. This type of work pushed me to become a much better photographer, but it came at a cost. It was grueling exhausting work. It took a lot of creative brain power. Soon, I turned down job after job. I needed a break.
- Scrapbooking - It started with a simple scrapbook page, and I was hooked. I did research and wanted to get better, much better. Once obsessed with scrapbooking, I was on multiple design teams and published in numerous magazines. One year I decided I would scrapbook 365 pages - and I did. I scrapbooked 365 pages that year! I started to get a bit overwhelmed by how much I needed to do. Again, my creative brain power was getting taxed. Once the second child came, I didn't have the time or energy to keep scrapbooking at the rate I was going and soon after decided to take a break.
- Blogging - This blog is a classic example. I blogged at least a few times a month from as far back as 2005! Come 2011 I stopped blogging as much. Why? Because I wanted to post photos with all my blog entries, and it got so overwhelming I just stopped.
- Amazon Reviews - It started as a normal hobby - I just wanted to review items to inform customers of pros and cons of using the item and inform them how to use it (if it were techie). Some of my reviews were so helpful, I eventually made it to top 15 reviewer, but not before I started to get burnt out and my helpful mother-in-law jumped in to give me a hand.
- Pokemon - I know. Eye roll. I bought a DS game system and this game, and the strategy guide, and mastered the game, and got to the point I one shotted nearly every kahuna's pokemon in the game.
Do you see a pattern? I don't half-ass anything. Ever.
You know what that leads me?
Awesome perfection! Fame! An immense feeling of pride. Feeling the best! ... then BURNOUT.
I often look back and think, what if I would just blog without the photos, or maybe just a few of them? What if I took my camera with me and just took random photos? What if I just printed some photos and scrapbooked just to get it down on paper? It gives me this high anxiety and instant feeling of brain drain, like I need to take a nap.
I get this huge high from the work and effort it takes to learn something to the point of perfecting it, but once I do, maintaining the level of effort to keep it at such an elevated status drains me. I can't half-ass it because I feel like I'm cheating myself. People say to me, it's ok not to be perfect. It's ok to just half-ass the scrapbook page, photography, etc because at least you are getting it done.
NO, it's NOT ok. I know it's half-ass. I know it's not my best effort and then I sit there and stare at it and I hate it.
To some, this may seem obsessive, compulsive and over the top, but I guarantee you, this is what every over-achiever and every perfectionist think when they are doing something they care about. They feel that everything out there is a reflection of them. They have this reputation on the line that they are the best. That any half-ass representation is a reflection on them in a negative way and they don't want to risk it, not just to others, but to themselves. They don't want to let themselves down.
This perfectionism can be an issue. There are upsides to perfectionists. Is that possible? The upside about people like this:
- They are passionate. Perfectionists can't wait to find out what they can on this new topic!
- They are quick learners! Perfectionists must learn everything about it because they are passionate!
- They are Problem Solvers - Perfectionists always are able to push through and figure things out.
- They are Teachers - Perfectionists are passionate and like everyone else to share their passion.
- They push the creative envelope - As stated above, they like to be the best, so they will challenge the best.
- They are inventors - Perfectionists are new looking in, and will bring that outside knowledge in with creative ideas and innovations.
- They are sought after: People look for perfectionists with this level of passion and drive to lead.
One of the main keys to making a perfectionist not burn out - keep them engaged with new challenges, changes and make sure to push them out of their comfort zone. It stresses a perfectionist out, but it gets them out of their complacency that often occurs when they 'master' something, and forces them to focus on something new.
Being a perfectionist is sometimes a blessing and a curse all at once. It brings out some of the best traits to learn and master something challenging very quickly but can also bring out the traits to burn you out just as fast. It's mastering the successful, yet not burnt-out reality that is challenging, and something I am aiming for. I'm a constant work in progress...
(I found the perfect little image below to match my blog post!)