I’m a pedant, a perfectionist, and I’m constantly at the mercy of my too-high expectations.
There’s a voice in my head that tells me I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never be smart enough, I’ll never be thin enough, pretty enough, talented enough, popular enough..the list is endless. It’s an endless refrain taunting me of my imminent failure, one that the voice uses as a weapon, trying to convince me that I’ll never be enough. In some ways, the voice has won; because I do believe that I’ll never be good enough.
Nothing I ever do will be enough to quiet that voice because the truth is that she doesn’t have high standards – she has impossible ones.
I’ve spent my life torturing myself in pursuit of ‘good enough when ‘good enough doesn’t exist.
At university, if my mark in coursework or an exam wasn’t the highest, it was a failure. If my mark was the highest, but it wasn’t above a certain level, that was a failure too. Even success was short-lived because there was always something else to criticize.
Despite being exhausting, my perfectionism has gotten me quite far in life. Relentlessly pushing myself to improve paid off in academic awards, internships, and graduate jobs. It gave me the validation I didn’t know I needed but then it left me floundering when I no longer had it post-education, and the voice would come back, just as loud and incessant as before.
Now I wonder if instead, I can just have constant improvement without the aggressive perfectionism? Because that voice doesn’t want improvement or sustainable growth, she wants perfection in everything, every day and it makes me feel like I’m drowning.
I’m regularly at the gym and am 3lbs away from my lowest healthy weight yet I’m not ‘thin enough’. My acne flare-ups mean I’m not pretty enough. My writing hasn’t instantly taken off with 10,000 followers and a blue tick on my social media, so I’m not talented enough. I’m no longer in full-time education so I can’t be smart enough. Everywhere I look there are examples of people living better lives than me, being more talented than me, being more beautiful than me. The criticisms are free-flowing and never-ending.
But now I’m taking the power back.
The acknowledgment that I’ll never meet these impossible standards is my first step in taking strength away from that voice and giving it back to myself. Whilst that little voice might berate me, I’m proud of where I am. I have started writing about my mental health, I work full time in a professional career, and I’m building a life with the man I love.
To the little voice that shouts and screams and tells me, I’ll never be good enough: you’re right – but that’s your problem, not mine.