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Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Time I Realised the Dangers of My Perfection Mentality

You know, the longer I live through my days as myself, the more I've come to realise that I have unknowingly grown into a human being who makes his decisions, plans his life, and lives it according to a psychological syndrome known as perfectionism.

For those of you who think I might be talking about perfection for the egotistical and prideful way it sounds, no I'm not. I'm talking about the self-destructive version here. The part that is often dangerously found at the inner core of individuals, individuals such as myself. So, perfectionism, is it innate or self-made?

    "Do you think you have a problem with life's bad side? Why do you think it consumes you so much to the point of collapse whenever things don't work out, or go smoothly the way you want it to go?", asked the counsellor two years ago.
    "Because... because... Bb-bb... Because, it's not perfect. Dare I say it. It's not perfect! And I hate it. I hate it so much", I remember hearing myself say in defeat. It was at that powerful moment too that I realised for myself, that I am somewhat corrupted by this inexplicable syndrome for perfection.

In order to get to the bottom of how I ended up with this mentality without seeing it coming, I'll need to look at my thought process as a kid. Realistically speaking, I would have to say that my life doesn't deserve to be called bad. Really, in comparison to what is going on out there in the world, it isn't bad. But it definitely had its challenges as an emotionally weak gay kid from a broken family. For some reason, we always had a lot of obstacles or practical life issues that needed a lot of sorting out.

I often wonder if its because I never had that seemingly "perfect life" as reflected by the world or the peers surrounding me, that I unconsciously started the pattern of constantly daydreaming about the ideal situation, the perfect future, or the perfect movie to escape the current reality I didn't fancy.

I remember fantasising a lot about what my life will look like in a perfect world, a world without failure, a world without setbacks, a world where resources, financial or otherwise, odds, physicality and luck are all on my side. I don't know where this unrealistic form of thought arose from, but I think one of the things I could identify as the trigger was my perception of other people having it that way.

You'll always hear me say something like: "When I grow up, this and this will right itself. When I become successful, this and this will be perfect. When I am twenty five, things will no longer be as miserable and as low as they are now. When things get better, when I become more good-looking. When I, when I, when I."

Well, twenty five years down the road, I've grown into an adult struggling with the same concept of thought. However, the difference this time in this journal, is that my awareness of the problem might actually help me realise how severe this perfection disorder has corrupted me. And that I can now start to implement a conscious efforts to change the way I operate and think. To make better choices for myself and to be freer as a person, as a human being.

Here in this post, I would like to first write down for myself, my realisation of the dangers caused by this state of mind. Looking back and analysing my life, this psychological disorder for perfection has driven me to do many naive and unreasonable things in the past and in the present. They include:

  • Why I had thoughts to want to end my own life prior to the year 2011 when I realised that being gay wasn't going to 'go away' no matter how many nights I went to sleep. I felt as if my entire being and existence was tarnished, and that I was the new ostracised defect. Which is so foolish when I come to think of it now, but that was certainly the thought of a person raised in a conservative cum religious society where homosexuality is still taboo. Anyway, that was the past and I am glad now to have survived that depressing state of mind.
  • My unreasonable frustration and resentment with failures and hardships that never seem to into my life because psychologically, they remind me of how imperfect my life is. For I perceive them as elements that swallow perfection or rather a form of 'mess' or a 'nuisance' to the perfect movie or vision I've aspired to. Will work on it.
  • Why I couldn't accept my body, my skin, or how I look. In other words, the 'physical container' I've been given by God for the longest time in life because firstly, I couldn't accept myself. And secondly, I allowed my belief in not measuring up to what people around me or society might perceive as a conventionally attractive male defeat me. I think that gave way to my long rooted battle with issues concerning the lack of masculinity and deep insecurity. Will work on it.
  • My lack of commitment in allowing myself to truly like a guy properly for the long termor take on recent guys at a chance of a trial run for possible boyfriendship, because apart from the worry that I first need to sort out my career path, I think I am also constantly on the wait and look out for other guys who might be better fits to my dream of a perfect loveWhich I'm starting to realise might be unrealistic and a huge mistake. Will work on it.
  • My constant blind wait for the perfect timing, "the perfect opportunity", "the perfect job", "the perfect price" or the "perfect design" at the expense of not getting anything done. This idea of idleness and paralysis brought on by the hope of waiting on perfection has recently been a recurring theme which needs to be tackled. Will work on it.
  • Why my ex-boss from work was critical of my tendency to over-think on a task and strive for obsessive perfection that it impedes my professional output, speed and productivity at the work place. For in the realistic world that we live in, sometimes perfection doesn't carry as much weight, importance and value than practicality itself. Will work on it.

So there we are, examples from which I can recall spontaneously from the head. Although some of them might be a little too personal for me to elaborate here, which I will not get into, but my hopes of writing this down in the journal is that it will remind me of what I really need to work on, and to allow myself to remember this period of growth in the future.


  1. I'm not sure how it is with you, but also writing it down also makes things seem not as bad as when you're spinning in your own head about something.

    As far as the work stuff goes, I think it's a matter of the task at hand and the role you play. I think your analysis could set you apart and work to your advantage in certain roles in the organization, like project management and risk management. I think people like you have valuable insights because they look at the big picture. And once you temper that getting things done, it's like a dream coworker. It's just gonna be a struggle to pick your battles and hold the analysis paralysis at bay for things that are, on the whole, just not worth your attention. Your perspective is valuable so why waste it on something that people will overlook, right?

  2. As Bruce wrote, writing it down also makes things seem not as bad as when you're spinning in your own head about something. I think you over-think and, in doing it, your problems get bigger. Try to relax yourself, especially your mind. Have you ever try with meditation? In my experience, it's really useful in similar situations.

    The essential thing is that you have realized the problem. Now, you can start to work on it. Probably it won't be easy, but you're a strong guy. For example, it's usually difficult to analyze and write about yourself but look, your blog is an amazing story of your life...I'm sure you will win your "personal battle", you have the right stuff!

    Good luck or, in Italian, "in bocca al lupo". :)