Tag Archives: perfectionism

Killing Perfectionism

I sort of tumble through Tuesdays as a general rule of thumb but today felt particularly bad. I actually did the readings for my first class but when the professor called on me, I hadn’t a clue what the answer was. Unfortunately, it proved to be a rather vital point so he pointed at me every time it came up for the rest of class. 

I had about an hour till my second class and I planned to read for it beforehand. But turns out I left my textbook at home. And as it happens, this professor cold calls so I had to own up to not doing the reading so I wouldn’t get called on. It is quite demoralizing to admit to someone that even though you’ve had an entire week to do the readings, you didn’t. 

Then my third class. I did the reading. It didn’t matter; I barely understand a word of Immigration Law. 

And then finally my fourth class, where I don’t have the textbook yet so I didn’t read for it. 

It doesn’t sound too bad listing it like that. But when you add in trying to prep for discussion groups tomorrow and wrapping up a project for my Foundation job and the guilty knowledge that final edits on my law review article are due and, oh, any other number of e-mails and projects slipping out of my grasp….it feels exhausting. 

And I am reminded that every semester I tell myself I won’t listen to the perfectionist in my head. I will do what I can and make the best of how it turns out. But it still stings. I want to do it all. I want to be perfectly prepared for class. I want As. I want to turn in perfect work assignments and spout wisdom to my students and somehow maintain a social life and be a good big sister while I’m at it. 

And I just can’t. I need to intentionally give up my expectations. Physically set them aside and say ‘no.’ So I do. And once I do I think I’m done for good. But no, it sneaks back. Again and again and again. The pressure to Do Better. To be perfect. 

And then I go and forget my textbook at home. 

I don’t know what this semester will bring. I hoped it would be less than last year. From a pure “listing” of things, it is less. But being a 3L comes with new types of responsibility. (If I’m even a 3L, as Thailand hasn’t sent my official transcript to the law school yet so as far as any formal records show, I’m a semester behind and still a 2L…but that’s a rant for another day.) 

I know there is an entire spiritual element missing from this post. God pours many blessings into my life. And sometimes I do recognize and appreciate that fact. But if I’m honest, perfectionism hurts me in my spiritual journey as much as anywhere. I don’t live up to the goals I set for myself. I don’t read the Bible or pray nearly as much as I should. And so I just let that weigh on me, yet another “extra” that doesn’t get accomplished. 

It isn’t so much a battle with perfectionism as a war. Some battles perfectionism wins. Some I win. And some days, like today, it ends in a draw because I’m too tired and confused to process anything.