I have a confession to make. I’m a perfectionist. I’ve been a perfectionist since the tender age of five, when perfection meant coloring within the lines. Now, as a twenty-something, I’ve come to learn that my perfectionist ways are no longer helping, but rather hindering, my personal growth. If you’re a perfectionist like me, you know the worst thing in the world is to make a mistake. But life in your twenties is riddled with mistakes, mess-ups, and failures. Thus, I’ve decided that I’ve got to abandon my perfectionism and here is why you should too.
It no longer serves you.
Growing up, perfectionism earned me straight As throughout high school and no more than three Bs in college. Perfectionism meant I graduated as the valedictorian of my high school class and got a full ride to the college of my dreams. But school is out, and as a twenty-something, perfectionism is no longer the ticket to accomplishing dreams. It’s both fortunate and unfortunate, that life is not as simple as turning in your homework on time and studying for tests. The truth of the matter is, perfectionism is rewarded in our education system. In school we’re taught to do what we’re told and we’re rewarded with an A. In the real world, it simply doesn’t work that way. For one, there is no one telling you what you should do or checking in to make sure that you do it. And in the real world, you may do what you think you’re supposed to do, only to find that there is no reward waiting at the end of your efforts. So while it’s easy to hang on to something that has brought you success up until this point, perfectionism simply doesn’t have the same effect as it once did when you become a twenty-something. That only means one thing: it’s time to let it go.
It is holding you back.
In addition to not getting you the results that you want, perfectionism is also what keeps many a perfectionist like myself from trying new things. With trying new things comes the risk of failure, and, as I said previously, this is a perfectionist’s worst nightmare. But life in your 20s is not the time to sit idly by, scared to take chances and try new things. Your 20s are rather the perfect time to take risks. You’ve got opportunity and little responsibility. So instead of hesitating, it’s time to put yourself out there and try something new. And as long as you’re trying to be perfect in all that you do, you’re less likely to take those chances. That is why I say abandon perfectionism in pursuit of your dreams and the things that make you happy.
I’ll be the first to admit it is not easy. For me, perfectionism is second nature. It is hard to give up. But while perfectionism may have served a purpose in my life at some point, as a twenty-something it’s time to demolish the notion that myself or the things in my life need to be perfect. Life in your 20s is imperfect. I challenge us, myself included, to embrace it and take a chance at imperfection. After all, there is no success without failure.