I am a ‘recovering perfectionist’…

A few years ago, during a therapy session I was receiving for a bout of depression I was suffering with, I described myself as a ‘recovering perfectionist’, I came up with the phrase whilst writing in my journal and reflecting on my ways, it describes me perfectly. I guess what it means is that I am a perfectionist but I try consciously not to let it rule my day to day life.

If I am honest, it’s my perfectionism that stopped me from pursuing a career in Theatre Design which is what I originally trained in, I found the whole process of designing for the theatre so incredibly stressful that when I first graduated I couldn’t accept any work that came my way, I was too scared of failing.

As a Newly Qualified Teacher I struggled for the first couple of years until I realised that all the work would never be done and it would definitely never be done to the standard I wanted, so the important thing was to prioritise the work that needed to be done and do it as best I could in the time available without working myself into the ground, I think I’ve mostly succeeded but I still have moments when I push myself too hard, but I think most people do.

It is my perfectionist tendencies that prevent me from really pursuing a more actively creative and crafty lifestyle. I think the creative process is fabulous but as a perfectionist I find the process challenging to say the least, creativity does not, I believe, go hand in hand with perfectionism. I might be wrong? I am envious of those people who can really pursue their creative passions without self-censoring. And yes I know, I just need to get over it!

Anyway, I find it very hard to quash my perfectionist tendencies, in many aspects of day to day life I tend to manage it but I am finding it hard with this wedding malarkey. I am desperate not to turn into Bridezilla, but small things just seem to keep going wrong and I’m finding it hard to deal with. My perfectionist tendencies seem to get worse whenever what I am doing will be seen (or in my mind, be judged) by others, and our wedding will be seen by all those who are nearest and dearest to me. Whilst I know that they won’t be there judging me, a part of me (that is often very powerful at times) believes that they will. I myself have described all the extra things that we are including in our wedding day as ‘fluff’ and as such I KNOW that they are not important, that mistakes will be over-looked or won’t even be noticed, etc but I still find it tough.

Knowing is one thing, feeling and believing often another.

Well, what have I done to ‘fix’ this? I had a good old moan to the lovely ladies I have met through the RMW Real Brides competition and as per usual they were incredibly supportive and kind. I have spoken to my Neil and I have taken a step back from all the wedding stuff for a couple of days to spend a bit of quality time with my Neil and put the real reason for our marriage to the fore-front of my mind.

Any other ‘recovering perfectionists’ out there? How do you ‘quash’ your tendencies? What’s your trigger?

Anyone else having to step back from all the wedding ‘fluff’ to gain a bit of perspective?



January 28, 2012. Marriage, Wedding.


  1. Shirley replied:

    You have really hit the nail on the head for me here Amy as I too have huge perfectionist tendencies. I also find it more difficulty when things I do will be seen and if I’m honest it was a big factor in deciding not to dance competitively any more because I found the stress of being judged very difficult to deal with. I have to say that I haven’t found any good way of dealing with it, but accepting it is part of who you are and realising that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad quality have helped me live with it better. I like the fact that I push myself to be the best I can be, I’m a high achiever and proud of it. I like the fact that I always have a project on the go and am learning something new. The downside is that I tend to expect the same commitment and achievement from others and can get disappointed when they don’t live up to it. It helps that rog and I have talked many times about my perfectionism and he knows me well enough to spot when it’s raging out of control and steps in to make me take a break or take other things off my plate. I don’t keep a diary regularly but if I’m very stressed then writing it down can help too (I often feel overwhelmed by the enormity of tasks or the perceived number of things I have to get done and writing them down often helps me discover that actually there arent as many as I thought or that some are less important and can wait until another day). Lastly, I think it has become a little easier as I’ve got older – whether I’m better at handling it or too old to care as much I couldn’t say!!

    • whispersweetnothing replied:

      Hi Shirley
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I know what you mean about acceptance, I think it has such a major part in being able to live your life fully, if you accept who you are, hard as it can be at times! I agree with your point regarding it not necessarily being a bad thing – the whole perfectionist malarky, there’s nothing wrong with being a high achiever! I’m sorry you’ve given up competitive dancing because of this, hopefully one day you’ll find your way back to it. I also agree with your point about being disappointed by others, another lesson I learnt in my counselling was that ‘you can’t change those around you, you can only change your reaction to them’, it’s a motto I use most days! I think it helps having a partner who knows when to support and push you and when to tell you to pack it in!
      I don’t keep a diary much anymore, it tends to be something I keep when I’m struggling through something and need to write down my thoughts to help me deal with them.
      Big love to you! xxx

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