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The Dark Side of Perfection

The Dark Side of Perfection

Rachell Buell | Pretty Young Professional

February 10, 2011

I am a perfectionist. They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Unfortunately, many view this trait as a source of pride, not a serious affliction. For those who truly suffer from perfectionism, it can become an overwhelmingly unhealthy obsession.

My personal experience with perfectionism spawned from the need to be the best at everything I do. In college I was a Division I student-athlete, part-time nanny, active member in my sorority and college church group, all while maintaining a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend who would soon become my husband. Each day was a personal competition. In a strange way, I felt happiest and balanced when I could complete all my daily commitments with meticulous efficiency. If ever there was a gap in my schedule, I would immediately fill it with something productive.

About a year after starting my professional career in the “real world,” I married my best friend. Marriage had been on my mind for a long time and I had envisioned exactly what life would be like after tying the knot. To be specific, I had constructed a picture of myself as the perfect wife. To me, this meant maintaining a pristine home, working out diligently every day, consistently preparing beautiful dinners from scratch with ease and grace, and spending plenty of quality time with my husband. For inspiration, I eagerly subscribed to Martha Stewart Living and purchased several extravagant cook books. I’d always excelled in life by putting in 100% effort; why would the domestic realm be any different?

Channeling my “inner-Martha,” I set out to fulfill my wifely duties and add one more title to my list of abilities: Domestic Goddess. For the first three months of our marriage, I threw myself into a daily pre-dawn workout, full day in the professional sector, and spent the rest of my day in the domestic realm- cleaning, organizing, and cooking elaborate meals. By the time I checked off all of the daily to-do’s, there was rarely any time or energy left for myself or my husband. At first, I criticized myself for not accomplishing all of my wifely duties and resolved to work harder and become better organized and more magnificent. My scheme to be the perfect wife seemed to miss the point. The “perfect” life I had envisioned was completely unrealistic and unfulfilling. I found I was completely burnt out at the end of each day, resenting the things that had once provided so much enjoyment. The culprit: overachieving perfectionism.

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Featured Author: Pretty Young Professional
PYP Media / PrettyYoungProfessional.com is a career resource & media company for young professional women. Focusing on career and work/life balance content, PYP aims to engage today’s intelligent, driven Gen Y female. In short, smart content for smart women. And smart men, too.


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