Confessions of a Covert Perfectionist

It doesn't have to be perfect

It doesn’t have to be perfect (Photo credit: Thorsten Becker)

Unique. One of a kind. Original. Distinctive. I have always thought of myself as someone who is just that little bit different, special (my humble self is upset with me for using this word), inimitable—or at least hard to imitate.

Imagine my horror at discovering myself in the book “Overcoming Perfectionism” by Ann W. Smith. It was as if she were spying on my psyche, then exposing me to the world. Smith defines perfectionists as overt and covert. I am of the covert school of perfectionism. Without exception I have every one of her indicators—now some are more pronounced than others—but they pretty well sum me up. I have put the ones that fit me to a T in bold letters:

~ May have exceptional gifts and abilities that they are reluctant to pursue

~ Compare themselves to overt perfectionists and fall short

~ Have low expectations of those around them

~ Have high expectations of themselves, which they keep secret

~ May exhibit overt perfectionism when they excel at or enjoy a task or activity

~ Prefer being average and under the radar but secretly want to succeed

~ Are prone to procrastination, thinking they must do things right, so they have to wait and do it tomorrow (but not all procrastinators are perfectionists)

~ Worry about what others think of them

~ Act as chameleons, trying to find the right opinion or the right thing to say to avoid making a mistake

~ Underachieve to avoid pressure to succeed or competition with those who are better

~ Are inconsistent in achievements and keeping order—despite liking order and success, may reach a point where they have it, then sabotage themselves and fall back into disorder

~ Fear both failure and success and will sometimes resign themselves to being average rather than trying and failing.

Of course I am uncomfortable admitting to the fact that I have exceptional gifts and abilities, but I counter that with the true belief that everyone has exceptional gifts and abilities. Other than that I am thinking of suing Ms. Smith for invading my privacy (lol).

She says that not everyone is a perfectionist, but I think many of us have these attributes—I am just blown away with the fact that almost everyone hits the nail on the head for me (she did not include over usage of clichés though—guess that is my own addition—thinking a cliché is better than my own words at times.)

Perhaps you are an overt perfectionist—from what Smith says one of the main differences between the overt and covert is a matter of control.  Here are a few of her indicators for overt perfectionists:

~ May be born with a preference for order, but other factors contribute to a lifetime pattern of perfectionism

~ Have increased anxiety when they don’t have order around them, which may appear as frustration, anger or even rage

~ Are hard on themselves and may be even harder on others

~ May appear arrogant or judgmental, thinking that they know what is best and that everyone should do it their way

~ Fear failure and try to prevent it by being in control

Now that I know the symptoms, I will have to read the rest of the book, if not to cure myself of my overt perfectionism, at least to find balance in imperfection, which just so happens to be the subject of her last chapter.

Did you find yourself in any of the Indicators? Do you think you are overt or covert, or have you found a good balance?

Bliss Comes From Acceptance


I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

I was pledged by bipolar2dad. Drop by his brave blog.

Check out: Blog For Mental Health 2013 « A Canvas Of The Minds

Published in: on February 20, 2013 at 2:10 am  Comments (9)  

~ A Celebration of Sorts ~

English: Tree, Upper Farringdon This oak tree ...

English: Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning at 10 a.m. I went to the town park to plant a tree with some good friends. The tree was chosen for the way its leaves turn a vibrant red in the fall to match the vibrancy of the  friend that we were planting it for.

We lost our friend last spring. “We” is my Writers’ Group (we obviously put our creativity into our work and not our name). Our friend was a member of our group and she was bipolar. She did not hide it; in fact she almost celebrated it–not in a “party hardy” fashion but as an advocate for those who suffered this puzzling disease with her. She fought it with everything she had, and her family and friends helped her with the fight.

When she was taking the right “cocktail” of drugs, she was balanced, nay normal. Normal—what a word, but I mean normal in that she could handle everyday life. She could get up and function, and most importantly be creative and make other people happy. And she revelled in making other people happy. That is what made her happy.

She called us dudes and dudettes. She told us when we read something at Writers’ Group not to apologize for what we were about to read aloud in the group, and if we did apologize (as writers are wont to do), she commanded us

English: an exercise of chest

push-ups (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to get down and do push-ups for not minding her wise advice.

The tree was planted on a slope of land at the park, facing the lake. It was carefully chosen to be protected and out of harm’s way.  Professional landscapers did the actual planting, and a friend who works at the park brought over the first pails of water to nourish it.

We planted a tree today in honour of our friend, and this is the poem I wrote for her:

You Are In Our Hearts

We planted a tree today:

In honour of, or in memory of,

Or more appropriately

In celebration of a friend.

Our friend was vibrant

When she was not sad

She was jubilant

Except when she wasn’t.

She lived life to its fullest

When she could

She was braver than brave

Except when she was scared.

We planted a tree today:

In celebration of a life

Lived fully, abundantly, and effusively

Except when she couldn’t.

Goodbye friend

But, it is not farewell

You really do live in our hearts

And speak to our creative souls.

Her accidental death was a shock to our small town. She seemed to have a million friends. I am lucky to have been counted among them. We love you Colene.

Published in: on October 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm  Comments (58)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,