The Real Life

Confessions of a Perfectionist

October 5, 2016

Confession time.

I am a perfectionist and a highly detail-oriented person who can sometimes straddle the line of being anal-retentive. SometimesWhew. There, I said it. But to make myself feel better, I like to think of it as a gift and a curse. Gift because I tend to notice the minutiae of everyday life that often goes unnoticed by most people. And that makes me special, right? Curse because that same minutiae of everyday life can sometimes distract me from well, life. For example, I have this really weird thing with note-taking. I need my notes — mind you, notes that no one will ever see — to look aesthetically pleasing. What do I mean by that? Firstly, I can’t rush through my notes because then my handwriting will be sloppy and God forbid I take notes that no one will ever see in a messy, hurried scrawl. Secondly, my notes must appear organized and symmetrical. And thirdly, I need my notes to look non-basic; un-uniformed. There can’t just be bullet points and text because, how boring would that look. I need arrows, boxes, underlines and highlighting to break up the monotony. My notes need pizazz. But I sometimes get more caught up in how my notes look, than what I’m actually taking notes of. And therein lies the rub. They’re just notes. Notes that no one will ever see. Yet I inflate the details so much so that they become bigger than the entirety.

I care too much about outward appearances, often to my own detriment.

I want to be perceived in a certain way. I like being perceived in certain way. I strive to have a polished outward appearance because then it looks like I have it all together, like I know what I’m doing. And that constant desire is part of the reason for my lack of writing. Sharing the oftentimes messy inner workings of my life infringes upon all of my perfectionistic tendencies. And it makes me uncomfortable. In my head, I tell myself that I need my writing to be good. Always. And if I don’t deem something I write satisfactory, then it’s not worthy to be shown to the world. So you can imagine that the combination of these things creates quite the life dilemma for me. It’s very hard to truely live when you can’t live until everything seems good enough, perfect enough. I overthink things. I’m always in my head. I overanalyze. I live a life of re-edits and do-overs. But I do want to write honestly and that desire is constantly at war with my compulsive need for perfection. And it’s evident from my lack of blog posts that perfectionism has been winning the battle.

The thing about honesty is that it can’t be scripted. Feelings are sometimes so raw and intense and un-edited. Not polished. Not presented in this impeccably dressed little package with a pretty little bow on top. And I want to share that honesty. I want to BE and just write about BEing. And that includes the good, the bad and the ugly. It includes the messy and the mistakes. The flaws and idiosyncrasies. It includes the tough moments of life while I am in the midst of them, not after I’ve overcome them. But most importantly, it includes all the things that are making me, me. I know I have to learn to embrace the imperfect. The un-polished. Because no matter how hard I try to turn those beloved little details into perfection, its never going to happen. Nothing is ever truly perfect, not even circles.

So how do I find that balance? Still wanting things to appear polished and flawless, yet being okay when they are not. Focusing on the details, yet not being consumed by them. How do I let go more? Honestly, I don’t know. But if I had to guess what the next step would be, I would say it’s simply just to write. Write more and write often.

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  • Renee October 5, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Glad you are blogging Autsy! God bless you!

    • sincerelyautumn October 6, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      thank you!!

  • Kassie Bertumen October 13, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Hey autumn! I’m so glad to start following your blog. Omgeez I cannot say how much I relate to this post. For example, I remember telling people I don’t have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), I have OCG (obsessive compulsive gifting). I flipped it and said my attention to detail was a gift, not something negative. Second, I can totally relate to having perfect notes; I’m a stickler for having perfectly written and formatted emails!!! Oh gosh, I admitted it! That felt good. And imagine how many of those i send out in a working day lol (probably close to 30 eek). Lastly, while writing my masters thesis, I remember a doctoral candidate told me “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” That was my mantra and I would keep reminding myself of it to just get the darn thing done and submitted. And although I still grapple with perfectionism, I’ve learned (slowly) when to let go of things in their good state, so I’m not holding them up until they are perfect (which may never come). Anywho, I’m looking forward to seeing more of your posts. Write! Write! Write! And try not to overthink it, just hit Submit (or whatever icon it is to upload your post). I truly enjoyed this and you’re an incredible writer.

    • sincerelyautumn October 25, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      Yes, my fellow perfectionist! Finally someone who gets it. I’m definitely trying to learn how to stop overthinking things and letting them be sometimes. Every single time I hit publish and put my words out for the world to see I am a bundle of nerves, even though I’ve read, re-read and double-checked every sentence a million times. But I’m determined to write more and overcome those feelings. Thank you for those encouraging words.