Perfectionism and Anxiety || A Losing Battle

I don’t think I could possibly relate more strongly to a topic than that of the weird, complicated, and messy relationship between perfectionism and anxiety. I think it’s a challenge to even decipher which of these struggles came first, perfectionism or anxiety, it’s kind of like asking the age old chicken or the egg question. Pursuing perfectionism becomes a messy way to cope with the anxiety that you may be feeling, while also fuelling this anxiety by creating impossibly high standards for you to try and achieve. What a vicious cycle!

The thing about perfectionism is, that on the surface we look like we have it all together! Achieving top marks, being a social butterfly, being a school leader, etc. But inside we are facing this turmoil of never being good enough, no matter how many ‘things’ we achieve, or roles we acquire, it’s not enough for our perfectionistic brains. I even fooled myself into thinking I had it all together! In highschool I was your classic, nerdy, A+ student, who took on all the leadership roles, and was go go go all the time! I was so busy trying to be perfect at everything that I didn’t even realise how anxious I was until it came crashing down around me in my first year at uni. All of a sudden I was a little fish in a big pond, who couldn’t be the A+ student all the time, and who couldn’t be top of the class, and holy shit did my anxiety take a turn for the worst! This was when I ended up in therapy (thank god), and realised that I had been so caught up in being perfect my whole life that I had all this underlying anxiety swimming around inside me waiting to break free. Boy did it break free. I actually diverted so far the other way that I was failing most of my subjects in uni, because fuck it, if I can’t be perfect why bother even trying? At least then I can say I only failed cause I didn’t try right? That was way less embarrassing at the time than admitting that I had tried my absolute hardest and still barely passed! It was a weird state of mind to be in, trust me.

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I still struggle with this sometimes, but for the most part I am trying to remember that what I envision as being perfect is such an unattainable goal that it really isn’t worth putting my mental health at risk for. I’m going to sound cliche, but no one is perfect, and I mean NO ONE, yes not even that celebrity you idolise, or that classmate who seems to have it all together. You have no idea what their inner turmoil may be, or what they may be struggling with. Heck, they may not even realise that they’re struggling. I sure didn’t!

So just keep being you, and trying your best. That’s all we can do!

xo

Judy Maree