Perfectionism has its harmful side effects

“Extreme perfectionism is self-hatred in disguise and only serves to make us feel bad about ourselves.” This quote is by Denise Duffield-Thomas, a mentor for new entrepreneurs looking to make money but most importantly, a change in the world. Being a perfectionist is often viewed as a positive trait that increases your chances of success. Nevertheless, perfectionism, to some extent, can be an extremely damaging characteristics.

Being a perfectionist often causes stress. In my experience, perfectionists tend to want everything to be perfect no matter the importance, from the title of a poster to the tiniest straight line. Nonetheless, this isn’t always possible and this can make assignments and projects extremely stressful. This also causes the speed of their work to slow down and take a much longer time than it normally would. Being a perfectionist can be even worse if the person has an after school commitment, causing them to spend countless hours each night doing homework instead of getting the needed sleep to be able to grow and focus in school.

Additionally, failure is another point perfectionists often worry about. If I were spending hours on a project or assignment, making every aspect of it perfect then I’m going to expect and want top results. But if those top results aren’t achieved then I just wasted hours of precious time and might not be as resilient as other students who might have only spent 45 minutes but still tried their best, and are always looking for new ways to improve instead of fearing and avoiding failure.

This would also make me think less of myself, as the following quote by Julia Cameron (An American teacher, author, artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, pigeon fancier, composer, and journalist.) stated: “Perfectionism is not always a quest for the best. It’s the pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try harder.” This unexpected grade could easily cause me to think that I’m not good enough or that I’m “not smart” and lower my self-confidence.

Finally, in some cases, being a perfectionist can lead to negative side effects such as low self-esteem and anxiety. This definitely doesn’t apply to all perfectionists but might to very few. Low self-esteem is when someone lacks confidence and feels bad about themselves. This can often put people down and get in dark moods throughout the day.

If I didn’t get the wanted and anticipated grade I worked so hard for, as I mentioned before, this can cause me to think that I’m not and will never be good enough. This can then easily lead to me having low self-esteem, meaning I would repeatedly have negative thoughts about myself, I would stop trying new things and take risks, as well as I would have frequent feelings of anger, sadness or frustration.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is also something that is kind of similar to perfectionism and they can often be intertwined. OCD is “Having a tendency towards expressive orderliness, perfectionism, and great attention to detail.” This is, in some aspects, similar to being a perfectionist in wanting to do a lot of things correctly and paying attention to the little details. Nonetheless, OCD is much more complex than perfectionism and can also be very different in other aspects, so while one may lead to another, they aren’t the same.

Overall, perfectionism can have negative effects, some more serious than others. Some people grew up being told that you always need to be perfect and make everything around you perfect too. Ne


vertheless, this isn’t always the case, it’s okay to make mistakes and not always be perfect. Students are constantly told by teachers that making mistakes is okay and that your brain grows the more you make mistakes.

Some have grown up with this belief and have learned that perfection doesn’t exist, while others might have been taught the opposite in a different environment than ASL. A quote that I personally go by and use as an excuse for the times that I’m imperfect or need to stop wasting hours trying to be perfect is the following quote by an unknown source: “I know I’m not perfect, but I do my best.” Sometimes your best is the only thing you can do and nobody is absolutely and utterly perfect

About Vittoria Di Meo ('24)

Opinions Editor 2019-20

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