Saturday, January 2, 2010

Learning to Dance Away from Perfectionism

I'm not sure how many other sensitives out there can identify with being a complete control freak when it comes to our professional lives, as well as the aspects of our personal lives we deem to be important. Perfectionism is a trait that has ruled my actions throughout my thirty-three years of life, especially in terms of my jobs, my schoolwork, a few romantic relationships, some platonic relationships, and the actions of family members. Conscientiousness and idealism are other names for the drive to "make everything right," but regardless of the synonym you choose, I believe that this trait is one of the main sources of stress for sensitives.

Perfectionism is not necessarily a bad thing. It can prevent mistakes, lead to continuous improvement, get you noticed for supposedly being "brilliant," lead to promotions or extra assignments because you're a "good, hard worker." Idealism is what drives the world to be something more than what it currently is. It pushes everyone to attempt to go beyond what they currently see. Limitations are disregarded, hope sweeps its energy into inspiration, the bright light of goodness shines within our eyes, kindness and goodwill flow from our hearts into actions without a second thought.

Yet, conscientiousness can also make you the target of bullying from bosses and co-workers who fear your competence and your unwillingness to solely rely on the political game to advance. Conscientiousness can cause you to drive yourself into a corner of insanity. The realization that there isn't an answer to everything, some things can't be changed regardless of the amount and type of effort, you may not be ready for something or someone you want, and that perhaps what you're attempting to accomplish just isn't a good fit for you, can be beyond frustrating if you haven't learned how to recognize when you need to let go.

Being a perfectionist doesn't always allow you to dance with life. The idea that life is meant to be danced with is something that I've known in theory since I was perhaps nineteen or twenty. It was 1996 or 1997; I can't seem to recall exactly which year, that I was introduced to the concept through the song "Dance With Life" that was used as part of a storyline regarding a young character learning to experience life to its fullest, despite having HIV. The idea has remained in theory until recently.

Until recently, I've used perfectionism as a way to absorb myself in work rather than play. While I've never equated time with money, it's easy to see why others have gotten that impression from me. My energy used to be spent on being productive out of necessity. When the threshold for necessity has more than been met and you find yourself still working hard and striving for perfectionism due to an organizational culture's drive, you begin to finally see what's important. When you realize that your best still isn't going to be good enough for that culture, you begin to "perfect" the art of maintaining the minimum performance levels. Your values begin to change, as you no longer wish to work long hours and miss the very experience of life. The stress begins to fade away, along with the high expectations you place upon yourself.

After all, mistakes are nothing more than the lessons we need to fuel our growth. The memories of playtime, relaxation and time spent with those important to us are what we end up cherishing. The freedom to explore your interests, hobbies, make a difference, and enjoy how you spend your time is valuable in the sense that it makes living worthwhile. Every moment that we experience in the tangible dimension of existence is a gift and an opportunity to shine light where there is darkness. Rewards don't come without leaps of faith and trials and errors that have no reason to be filled with regrets. Conscientiousness shouldn't be completely abandoned, but don't allow it to stop you from hearing the music that's inviting the soul to express itself. Choreograph the dance into a memorable venture that carries you on a breathtaking whirlwind of adventure.

1 comment:

  1. This is so timely for me! The third paragraph where you make the connection between conscientiousness and co-workers fears is illuminating! A million thanks. I no longer need to go to work wondering 'is it me?'.