When Perfectionists Aren’t Perfect

The other day I received my final grades for the winter term of my MSW program.  When I saw that I got an “A-” in one of my classes, I was furious and devastated.  I was overwhelmed by negative thoughts about my intelligence and work ethic and my mind was reeling with what I could have done better throughout the semester that would have resulted in an “A” instead of an “A-.”  Soon enough, my bad thoughts had seeped into other areas of my life and before I knew it, I had convinced myself that I was a stupid, lazy, ugly, and flabby person. Are any of those things true?  No, of course not, but I am still feeling the effects of all of my negative self-talk.

As I internally beat myself up, I knew that what I was doing was wrong and that I needed to stop, but I couldn’t bring myself out of it.  The only thing that ended up working was the thing that always works…turning to God.  God is the only one who can ever respond perfectly when I am unhappy and negative.

When I remind myself that my true identity is that of a child of God and that He loves me for my imperfections, I am able to find a little bit of peace. 

When I remind myself that academics, athletics, and looks are superficial things and not the things that really matter in the end, I am a little bit better at accepting my perceived flaws. 

Once God calms me down, I inevitably start to feel pretty ridiculous for getting so worked up about such “trivial problems.” Don’t get me wrong, getting good grades is important and recovery  is VERY challenging…probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever gone through…but I get mad at myself for crying over these things when other people around the world are enslaved, hungry, homeless, having terminal illnesses, or dealing with something that I cannot even fathom.

This post may make me seem dramatic, but my feelings, whether I am proud of them or not,  are real.  Hopefully the process of writing out my feelings will help me improve my outlook, create positive change, and maybe even help someone else, too.

Here are some of the verses that bring me the most peace of mind:

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16: 7

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from you own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.”  Romans 12: 2

Let’s Grow Together questions:

1.  Do you struggle with perfectionism?

2.  How do you “snap out of it” when perfectionism is bringing you down?

3.  On a lighter note:  What was the highlight of your Wednesday?  I’m back in Ann Arbor and just started a great new internship!

2 thoughts on “When Perfectionists Aren’t Perfect

  1. I can very much relate to that and through getting closer to my faith I have grown to work with my perfectionism. one of the best advice mantras that I use almost daily is that “Anxiety is like a slap in the face to God”. God has a plan for us and by worrying about what we will be handled, we are saying that we don’t trust the path God has for us. Great post!

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