Hello. I’m Taylor, and I’m a perfectionist.
I’ve suffered from this since childhood. I was the student who equated an A- with failure and had meltdowns at the threat of a B+, and I was the 12 year old who went vegan after a documentary overwhelmed her with guilt/shame. (I didn’t know smack about real cooking, so I got so skinny that my folks intervened) I was the teenager who scheduled her days into strictly followed 30 minute increments to maximize her number of extracurricular pursuits.
For awhile I called myself a recovering perfectionist because I’ve developed methods to manage these maladaptive impulses. But, like a morphing bacterial strain, perfectionism has manifested in other ways--even in my management methods. It is evident in the appearance of our apartment, how I agonize over purchasing choices, how I approach motherhood, and how my obsessive research and reflections on how to be an effective do-gooder has led to countless hours wallowing in the depths of existential questions. In short, I’m still making myself (and my nearest/dearest) miserable in my quest to succeed in the game of life.
Comically, I’m a life-long member of a faith tradition that not only declares perfection as the end-goal but defines it and the formula to get there. According to Methodism, reaching perfection has nothing to do with being rockstar humanitarian peacenik theologian writer by day, Martha Stewart at home, Michelle Obama at a diplomatic reception or Halle Berry on the beach. That’s right. What we also call "sanctification" isn’t about skills or accomplishments. It is about growing in love with the help of the Holy Spirit. A perfect person is defined as someone who unconditionally loves God and all of God’s creation. It is that simple.
Of course, it is one thing to intellectually know something to be true and another to have one’s emotions, habitual thoughts and behavior affirm it. I, for one, am getting serious about doing that and am enlisting the help of some mental health experts to coach me in methods to rewire my mind. Let me know if you’d like to join me in this exploration, and I’ll let you know if I learn any good tricks (like coherent breathing) I learn along the way. Who knows? Maybe in this journey to exorcise perfectionism we’ll find ourselves on the path to perfection!
The Taylor who still doesn't sew