One thing I come across more and more are people who label themselves as “perfectionists”.
Perhaps social media has a large role to play in this, where people tend to post their successes, but never the challenges that they faced striving for success.
They rarely post about the lonely months and years grinding away endlessly at a goal. They don’t post about the multiple times they broke down in tears or furiously wiped the slate clean to start all over again.
Sure, a fitspo model or a successful entrepreneur might write a few lines in a post about the struggles they experienced getting to where they are now. But the few lines of text are usually completely dwarfed by a giant picture of their perfectly toned body or their new Ferrari or private helicopter.
Forget the words, they rarely register and they certainly don’t stay with us. The picture is all we see.
As they say, “ a picture paints a thousand words”. And it’s the words that run through our head, our inner narrative that we associate with these Instagram and twitter posts that determine our level of mental and emotional maturity.
Now, as I said in a previous video, all dating red flags relate in some way or another to an individuals lack of emotional and mental self-control and maturity.
And a lot of people seem to use the term “perfectionist” to describe themselves these days, as though it’s either interchangeable with the term High achiever, or they mistakenly believe the favourable traits associated with being a high achiever also apply to being a perfectionist.
This cannot be more wrong.
Maybe they think stating they’re a perfectionist is like the next level above being a high achiever.
“Oh, you’re a high achiever? Well, I’m a perfectionist. That means I’m a super-duper high achiever”.
And, fair enough, some people might be just saying this to try to impress you.
But some genuinely believe that being a perfectionist is some sort of virtuous trait they possess. They see nothing wrong with working endlessly, obsessively fussing over the food they eat, or whether the colour ensemble of their outfit matches. It’s these people who will make your life hell.
You see, they might try to pass off their behaviour as having “high standards”, and you’re only complaining about it because you’re not a high achiever, like them. But don’t fall for this.
You see, high achievers are dedicated, determined individuals who have a strong desire to accomplish something important to them.
They don’t really care about what people think about them. They forge their own path and march to the beat of their own drum.
Perfectionists do not march to the beat of their own drum. Their entire existence is based on trying to meet the expectations they believe other people have for them.
Perhaps they’ve absorbed an unhealthy level of pop culture and allowed themselves to be influenced too much by the façade that the media promotes as being the norm.
I mean, our culture and media promotes and encourages the trait of perfectionism. Think of all the pop stars and celebrities you see on TV. The amount of hard work and the sometimes decades of hard times these actors and singers went through before they finally achieve a level of success is completely unacknowledged. These people just materialise out of nowhere, like they were just born this way. And these PR companies encourage this myth because they’re trying to create a larger than life character.
Or maybe they had a parent who they felt was always disappointed with them. Maybe they were told they were a mistake, or maybe they were told they were the reason their parent had to give up a successful career. They spend the rest of their lives trying to make up for the great “sin” they believe they committed on their parents.
Regardless of the reason, perfectionists often view themselves and you and everything else that surrounds them through the lens of what they aspire, without being able to appreciate what it actually takes to attain greatness.
They don’t appreciate the hard work and multiple failures it takes to create something amazing or achieve success. They see only the results of success and assume this is how it always was and always will be.
Then they torture themselves and the people around them for never “meeting expectations”. They live in an endless “no-win situation”.
I’ve dated my fair share of perfectionists. One girl I dated completely lost her shit because the suit I was wearing, in her eyes, didn’t match the colour of her dress. She thought everyone would be judging us. All she ever saw was what was wrong in any situation, she just couldn’t appreciate anything in a positive light, because there was always something that wasn’t quite good enough in her eyes that she would just obsessively focus on. She was bloody exhausting!
In fact, I called her out on it several times and she was quite aware of this problem she had, but she just couldn’t help herself.
Being a high achiever is an extremely admirable quality to have. It means you’re adept at getting things done and you’re not afraid of doing the hard work to attain success.
The high achiever really doesn’t care what others think about them. They strive for success for their own satisfaction, not to please others. And they’re not afraid to fail. Failing is just a part of learning to succeed.
And it also generally means that you have high standards, not only for yourself but for those you surround yourself with.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, is toxic.
It just means is that you’re fearful that you’re unable to cope if things go sideways, so you need things to be a certain way in your life or you have a meltdown.
When someone says they’re a perfectionist, what they really mean is “I need everything to be perfect in my life, or I can’t handle it”.
Everything has to be perfect, or it’s not worth doing at all, therefore, nothing ever gets done.
Those with a mature outlook, or who have taken the time to deal with the demons from their past understand that difficult things take time to master, and the world is a messy place filled with plenty of opportunities to screw up. So, when things inevitably don’t go to plan, they don’t panic. They’re flexible enough emotionally and mentally to deal with any hiccups life throws at them.
So, are they able to cope when life throws a spanner in the works? This is the thing you need to look out for and test for.
So before you decide to shack up with someone, go travelling together. Get yourself in stressful and unpredictable situations together and see what happens. You never know someone until you’ve witnessed them under stress.