psychology

[New School] Inner thoughts of a perfectionist: The struggle with starting

Sarah Francine Galindez
[New School] Inner thoughts of a perfectionist: The struggle with starting
'Perhaps I felt that with every mistake, I was loved a little less'

My most challenging battles have always been with starting. It could be anything. An essay. A song. A drawing. You name it. 

In high school, I could never begin a PowerPoint presentation until I’d chosen the best design, color scheme, font, and let’s not forget – transitions. Feel like cooking a new dish? Sure! Just let me go through all the recipes on Google and see which has the best reviews. Should I start a YouTube channel? First, I’ll have to watch videos on the best angles for filming. Oh wait, I need this camera to get the best shots. I’ll also need this video editing app because it’s the top editing software. And then I go down the rabbit hole of tech reviews. 

This is how my brain works as a perfectionist. I overanalyze the process and become too anxious to start. The anticipated hurdles of an endeavor discourage me from taking a step forward. In the end, that new dish never makes it to the table and my Youtube channel never sees the light of anyone’s explore page. 

Sometimes, I wish that I stopped caring so much. It’s exhausting, and things don’t have to be so complicated. Why think about solutions to problems that do not actually exist? I am no Doctor Strange. I can’t predict all the possibilities and solutions of what could be in a matter of minutes. It takes me hours to think of potential problems and probable solutions to those problems that may or may not occur. All that time and energy could have been spent on starting the process and gaining actual experience – on making progress in the real world. 

Certainly, there are benefits to coming to battle prepared. But what’s the use if the battle has already begun and the plans do not apply? Do you still show up to fight or turn your back? 

Must Read

Filipino students share anxieties, joys, expectations on return of face-to-face classes

Filipino students share anxieties, joys, expectations on return of face-to-face classes

The fear of making mistakes was so strong that it kept me from fulfilling my goals. I become too caught up with making the product or experience perfect that I forget to start. Remorse then kicks in and I’d wish I had just begun instead of thinking so much. The fear of failure loomed so heavily on me that it controlled my every step. But why? I guess when one grows up in a family so critical about their every move, a child becomes hyper-fixated on their choices.

Every decision I made as a child was questioned. 

“Why did you do that? You should have done this…” 

“Why are you wearing red? It doesn’t fit the occasion.” 

“Why can’t you get this right? Your sister did.” 

Perhaps I felt that with every mistake, I was loved a little less. That my worth diminished with every failure. It would eat me alive when I couldn’t get something right. I’d spend hours thinking about things I could have done better. 

At 21 years old, I realized that problems can be mitigated. But life will always have problems unless I am too cautious to have never lived a life at all. Human error is inevitable. The challenge of life is how one faces problems and responds to the mistakes that are made in the process of living. This mindset has helped me grow and become more courageous. 

Recently, I was visiting a foreign city and decided to take an improv class for the first time. It required me to perform exercises in front of an entire group of strangers. Did I almost chicken out and not attend? Yes. But I then stopped myself from thinking about all the possible scenarios that could happen and just went. 

Must Read

Awkward! How to deal with social anxiety now that face-to-face interactions are back

Awkward! How to deal with social anxiety now that face-to-face interactions are back

To think of it, improv would have been an absolute nightmare to my past self. It’s a landmine of slip-ups that are bound to happen. You can’t pre-plan a storyline; otherwise it defeats the purpose of the art. Its essence is being organic. 

One of the exercises required pairs to work together and create a scene out of nothing. It was a nonverbal exercise. A student would make one move, then the other would make theirs with respect to the previous one. If someone misinterprets, the other may carry on with the new material. When the scene had some direction, students were allowed to make more than one move to dive deeper into the scene. 

Did I make a fool of myself? Possibly. Do I still think about it in the shower? Yes. Am I glad that I did it? Yes. Had I allowed myself to overthink, I probably would have never pushed through. Heck, there were times during the class when I couldn’t believe I was actually there. But, the instructor mentioned at the beginning of class that there are no mistakes in improv and this was repeated throughout the session. Things just happen. It’s why we’re there – to improve.

The exercise showed me that things can work out without having to plan every single detail. I just had to trust the process and tackle any hurdles when it came to me. It was freeing to not be weighed down by the anxieties that would normally come with every experience I had. Ultimately, I must find a balance between my perfectionist tendencies and growing spontaneity. – Rappler.com

Sarah Francine Galindez is a third year psychology student at the University of the Philippines Visayas.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.