Seeking Serenity from Chaos: Mental Madness Pt. 1of 2


Perfectionism

First off, Happy New Year everyone! I know for some of us, the end of December and the beginning of January feels like one continuous year with no break in between; I have felt that on numerous New Years' Eves. It's tough going into a new year like that because even though the years do change, our pain can still follow us into what had the potential of being a great year. And in my experience, it has been so difficult at times to view the new year in a positive light when the dim light from my past still flickered. There had to be a way out of it, out of the constraint of hopelessness. I was desperate for a distraction from the outside world with all of its unpredictable events. I reached into my box of "Serenity" and felt around for it. Yes, there it was! I pulled out a small bag marked Open In Case Of Emergency. I loosened the draw string around the neck and shook empty the bag. Out fell my emergency device: Perfectionism.

Perfectionism is not just doing something perfectly but it is perfectly doing something perfectly. Not only is it getting the best score on a test, but it is getting the score faster than anyone else. It's going beyond the above and beyond. It's proof reading a blog post many times over just to ensure that you didn't misspell one word. It's making sure another co worker notices your performance and responds with a "perfect job" and never a "job well done". What's the difference between the two? Well, "perfect job" means it couldn't get any better, whereas "job well done" means it could've been better and because it wasn't, well obviously it's a failure. You are a failure. Or should I say I?

Perfectionism, for me, isn't about being better than anyone one for bragging rights or glory. Perfectionism is all about feeling good enough for myself. And lots of times, good enough to eat. Being perfect means nothing bad will ever happen to me. If I do everything right, the outcome will always be right. It's like a math equation: 2+2=4 and it will always equal four. As long as I never replace the second two with another number, my answer will always be predictable. The same. Safe. Sure, it's madness but it's madness that I can understand and control. I know the ins and outs of this craziness and it will never catch me off guard.

A perfectionist at heart is really dealing with (rather not dealing with) an event or events which were in and of themselves chaotic or brought about chaos. Perfectionism is a way to keep chaos at a low, to cover inadequacies. See, if I'm perfect by never showing my emotions, then no one has to worry about me. I won't be a burden and take up too much time or attention when there are so many other important obligations. If I'm perfect by always following the rules and always doing what's right, then my life will turn out great and nothing bad will ever happen, nothing will fall apart, at least not completely. But what happens when even perfectionism isn't enough? I panic again but my emergency bag is empty. I grab it to put it back in the box when I feel something still inside. Of course! How could I have forgotten? And that's when I pull it's best friend out of the bag...

Perfectionism, I believe you know OCD very well...

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