The Effects of Perfectionism

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The Effects of Perfectionism

Some people urge themselves to better performance with slogans like “Practice makes perfect.” However, I am a perfectionist, and I have to remember another slogan: “Sometimes good is good enough.” I stay away from proverbs that urge perfection. Over the years, I have noticed that the effects of perfectionism are mostly negative. Perfectionism affects my performance in high-pressure situations, the speed of my work, and the way I see myself.

First of all, my perfectionism makes me anxious about high-pressure situations. In school, I worry about taking tests. The pressure is on because there is no way to go back or change my performance. As I enter the classroom on test day, I feel my hands becoming clammy and I worry that I will forget everything I have studied. Socially, I worry when I will be dressed too casually or too formally, that I will forget someone’s name, or that I won’t be able to make small talk. Before I met my girlfriend’s parents, I spent a week worrying about what I would say and how I would act. First impressions count, and with my perfectionistic nature, it was important to me to make a good impression.

Trying to do things perfectly often means that I do not do them quickly enough. Once, my perfectionism even cost me my summer job at a car wash. On my first day, I was issued a t-shirt with a slogan on the back: “If you can read this, I’m moving too slow.” My job was to detail the cars after they came out of the automated washer. I would wipe the water from the car and polish the tyres and rims, while my partner, Grady, cleaned the inside of the windows, polished the dash, and vacuumed the seats. Grady always finished before I did and had to help me with the rims and tyres. When the manager thought we weren’t working quickly enough, he would yell, “Hustle it up, guys!” But, hurrying meant that dirt was left on the rims, watermarks on the car, and grey streaks on whitewalls, and my...
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