Perfectionism takes its toll in so many ways on those of us who are gifted.
Perhaps the biggest of these is the emotional battle that rages inside constantly about being good enough, living up to what you expect of yourself, questioning whether or not you’ve done all you can.
I think these feelings get perpetuated in so many different ways. From the negative words we so often say to ourselves when we feel like we could have done more, to the forgetfulness we have when it comes to recalling our past accomplishments, to the sense of missing something, or being responsible for something, or needing to make a difference in a much bigger way.
When we look for perfection in ourselves, we tend to automatically search for it in others as well. And so our relationships suffer because we expect those we love to be perfect and meet our incredibly lofty standards when there is no way they possibly can. We beat ourselves up inside, and we beat up others close to us outside.
We’re caught in a never-ending fight between who we are, who we can be, and who we think we should be, with each one of these pulling in a different direction.
And what happens when we start focusing on the gaps in our lives? When we follow the pointers that direct us to everything that is less than we desire? We get lost in those gaps. We drown in the emptiness that we ourselves have created. All we see around us is what’s missing, what’s gone, what we don’t have. And we remind ourselves of everything we should have had by now but don’t. Our words of reprise clang loudly in our minds, bringing headaches of despair – echoes of our own sense of loss, inadequacy, vulnerability, lack.
We search for more without acknowledging what we already have. We listen for voices of appreciation from others around us when our own criticisms drown out any that may be there. We try to understand our world, to imagine why our experiences must be so intense, deep, at times overwhelming. But of course we don’t come up with the answers. Only the questions remain.
You know, I wonder now, is it really perfectionism after all that creates the challenge, the dilemma, the pain? Or is it the sense of needing to fill ourselves on all dimensions to become all that we can?
Or is that just the same thing?