Perfectionism is flawed


Emily Wong

Strive for excellence, not perfection.

Emily Wong, Arts and Entertainment Editor

“Nobody’s perfect.” “Everybody makes mistakes.” These cliches are so often overlooked that the meaning behind it isn’t truly understood. Leave behind the mindset of perfectionism — excellence will follow.

These two terms may seem synonymous, but the implications are what differentiates them. Perfection is like running towards an endless road whereas excellence is like a comfortable gift you can appreciate. While the fear of failure is linked to perfectionism, resilience and challenging yourself to reach your full potential will allow you to excel. Pushing past your boundaries to take that step forward and face those fears requires the courage to take risks aggressively. 

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but being too extreme will harm mental health. Aiming for that perfect performance will always leave you feeling hopeless and frustrated, because no matter how much effort and time you dedicate towards reaching that idea of “perfect,” you will always fall short. This mindset restricts yourself to stay within your boundaries, limiting creativity and self-criticism. Maladaptive perfectionism is failure-orientated and can lead to depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even suicide. 

Pushing past your boundaries to take that step forward and face those fears requires the courage to take risks aggressively.

As a perfectionist myself, I tend to set overly high expectations that are unattainable. While I know they are unrealistic, I still hold myself accountable over them and feel disappointed when I don’t achieve them. This causes me to second guess myself before taking another step forward, altering motivation to self doubt. I also overthink the simplest matters, like writing this article. I sat here staring at a blank document for hours, continuously clicking the backspace key while watching the cursor blinking back at me, not because I wasn’t sure of what to write, but because I was afraid of how my article would turn out. This confirms the idea that fear is the driving force behind turning the perfectionist mindset into a toxic one. 

Like the best-selling author, Slyvester McNutt III, wrote in one of his books, “Overthinking is the biggest waste of human energy. Trust yourself, make a decision, and gain more experience. There is no such thing as perfect. You cannot think our way into perfection, just take action.”

The first step towards letting go of this mindset is to just trust yourself, and do it. Don’t look back. Stop contemplating over that one little mistake, repeatedly think of the “what ifs,” or try to predict all the possible outcomes; just leave it as it is and take that risk. Only then can you learn from your mistakes and be one step closer towards achieving your goal. Pursue excellence, not perfection.