Reflections on Perfection

It took me quite late in life to understand that the psychology behind the perfectionist was often motivated by low self-esteem. The idea that without having accomplished something admirable, then one didn’t have much value. The shame and self-hate that accompanies not being perfect was crippling and unnatural. This was a recent epiphany I’ve been reconciling with when certain life challenges made me realise that I lived perpetually in a paradigm of grading myself between an A+ or a Failure. And the penny finally dropped – I was chasing perfection because without being endorsed with Grade A, I alone was not enough.

Not feeling enough is an insecurity so many of us suffer from in different degrees of intensity and manifests in multiple ways for different people. Some project a more obnoxious facade, while others stay lurking in the background hoping for recognition beneath a veneer of humility. When I finally connected the dots between this old chestnut (not enough) behind so much of my fierce self criticism, an internal shift occurred in a small way. It started with old photographs of myself- I used to look at some of them with disgust and pity, incredulous at how bad I once let myself look. But since the recent self discovery- I stopped doing that. I just looked at my previous self with compassion and solidarity. I was a good person, doing her best in this life and trying to make my way in this world. I stopped judging myself for struggling with my body – in fact I wanted to hug her vulnerability and protect the inner child.

It was a liberating exercise. And deep down inside, I think a revolution is slowly taking place. The journey to accept and celebrate our shortcomings can often elude us but once we give ourselves permission to stay in that light, it keeps opening other doors of freedom.

11 thoughts on “Reflections on Perfection

  1. This is a very insightful essay. It’s got me thinking. These sentences are food for thought: “The journey to accept and celebrate our shortcomings can often elude us but once we give ourselves permission to stay in that light, it keeps opening other doors of freedom.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very insightful post; I think of myself and then many people I know who have experienced the same… we can be our own worst enemy at times, “grading ourselves between an A+ or a Failure…” not giving ourselves a break when in reality we are not only doing our best in this life (which is rare in itself), but we leave positive impacts we never see because we focus on being so self-critical that we miss the small things, the essential things which is positive impact. Wonderful post – and photos match the mood too 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and I think you’re so right- it is this personality type that is always trying hard to do the best but never appreciate the good the efforts produced as we are too busy ripping ourselves apart… truly being our worst enemy… here’s to more self love and compassion in the coming days 🤲🏻🤲🏻🤲🏻


  3. Thank you for these thoughts. I think the illness affects a lot of people and can start young. When I was only in elementary school, my father used to exhort me to be “better than the best.” I don’t think he ever laid that on my younger siblings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I agree it usually starts with childhood, how we were raised and over-achieving parents, micro-managing parenting etc.. I think parenting with the right balance of guiding but also letting your children develop their own agency is so complex and not that common in some cultures..

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s good to look back and understand that we have evolved, that we have changed something about us and everything has gone for the better. So you were right to make this reflection and it is a path that we should all take.

    Liked by 1 person

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