“If you know you are going to fail, then fail gloriously” – Cate Blanchett
I have always tried going along for the ride in life, and I have always failed [gloriously] at it.
The truth is I don’t have much of that “go with the flow” personality type in me. Instead, I thoroughly enjoy organizing, controlling, and refining almost every situation I am put in. I make sure things go my way, not just any way.
Some may call this “perfectionism”. I refer to it as the annoying, little bastard trait of mine called “needing to be the best at everything at all times”. I know that this mentality is okay to a point, but it can become really exhausting, really quickly.
Growing up I was that way with everything. A boy cracked some jokes in class? I had to be funnier than him. A girl got a 100% on her spelling test? I had to be smarter than her. The pretty blonde was sitting at the popular lunch table today? I made sure to befriend her before she could even catch my name. This cycle that I had fallen into instantly backfired and I was left to be exactly who I was; exactly who I didn’t want to be: an uptight, insecure perfectionist with a boring sense of humor, who got a solid 90% on the spelling test, and was always left to be the sidekick in friendships.
At least that’s who I thought I was, which only fueled the perfectionist fire in me more. I needed to be better than that.
When I had made the decision to train as a serious ballet student, my need to be the best was only amplified. While I knew that perfectionism affected people in all walks of life, it became even more prevalent for me in the world of ballet. The constant pressure (and desire) to make my legs higher than hers, or my jumps bigger, or my pirouettes faster broke me.
You know that famous quote, “Be yourself because everyone else is already taken”?
Yeah, I really wish that quote would’ve sunk into my brain. My perfectionism had the ability to become so powerful that I’d completely lose myself entirely. I was way too busy trying to latch onto everyone else’s characteristics, whether that’d be in ballet or in normal life, that I’d lose all of mine in the process. I became so obsessed with other people’s perception of me and wanting to be liked that I’d lose all of my self-confidence and spirit.
Looking back, there was a lot of “losing” when it came to my obsession with being perfect, and I wish I had known that sooner rather than later.
What I have learned from this is that perfectionism does not have to be a bad trait. First and foremost, you must understand how to manage it and keep it balanced. It is okay to be competitive and to want to be the best as long as the thought is not all-consuming. Don’t let your ego and pride get it the way, and you don’t have to show off for anyone. I know you hear this all of the time and that it is totally cliche, but you really just have to be yourself, for yourself. I’m learning everyday how to take life as it comes to me and enjoy the ride. Let me just say, I’m enjoying it much more as myself rather than always trying to be like everyone else!