- Definition: Finding out that, all throughout your life, you’ve been giving a lot more than most people, and even though that was more than enough, you never saw it as that. In fact, you always imagined you weren’t giving as much as you could. Living up to you potential sometimes means toning yourself down a bit rather than pump yourself up for more work.
“In order to go on living, one must try to escape the death involved by perfectionism”
– Hannah Arendt –
Last Saturday I had class. The topic was the things that drive us, and we all had taken an online test to see what our top three motivating elements are. There are nine in total, each accompanied by its own colour. During class we had to give each other coloured bits of paper to indicate what top colour (read: motivator) we thought everyone had.
I received six papers of which four were dark blue. Dark blue indicates perfectionism. The other two colours were lime (sensitivity) and pink (loyalty). On the pink one was written: “But you also have a lot of blue.”
Despite blue NOT being my top colour* (I know right!? I was quite surprised myself to find blue to be my motivational runner-up), there’s no denying I am a perfectionist by heart. And even though I pride myself for always giving everything my full 100%, I also learned that my 100% is not a normal person’s 100%.
Our teacher told us a story of how she learned first hand that a perfectionist’s 100% equals about a regular person’s 130% and in order for us (she’s a perfectionist, too, if you hadn’t guessed already) to function “normally”, we ought to stop at 70%. 70% and no more, that would equal us out with the rest.
Her words intrigued me and without even realising it, I set out on an experiment. All throughout this week I’ve “only” given 70%. Well… except maybe with that gif you see up there, but I just had to get that to work properly, now didn’t I?
You know what happened? Instead of having people yell at me angrily for not being at my best I had people praise me! Praise me for leaving those six-or-so leaves on their porch after sweeping (GAHH that was so hard!). Praise me for scrubbing their floor even though I only got to do that because I refrained from dusting (very, very painful moment for me – and for my knees). Praise me because I neglected to mop their living room or didn’t vacuum their hallway!
Does the world get any crazier!?
(Although, better not answer that. We just had our terrible prime minister re-elected so I guess the answer to that question is yes.)
All this week, even in my posts, I’ve given just a little less than I normally do. And instead of stopping to spin, the world has continued on as if nothing happened.
My brains are in a state of confusion right now. What’s going on!? How come I still get praise even if I don’t live up to my full potential?
The answer is simple: I’ve always been over-giving. Burning myself up by putting too much importance on the shoulders of tiny details. What I saw as my virtue was secretly my vice, as the only person I was pleasing was my inner critic. And he was never really pleased any way, so why care what he thinks?
Letting go is an important aspect of overcoming problems you face on your inside. Although I never saw my perfectionism as a problem, I now understand it kept me from being free; it’s as if I am a bird and my perfectionism is my cage.
I’ll never be a slacker and I’ll never stop trying my best, but it’s good to know my best is still more than good enough at 70%.