One aspect of my life that has taken a serious hit from my perfectionism is the way in which I go about getting my schoolwork done.
I am the type of student who is given an assignment three weeks before it is due, but never actually gets it done until the night before. It takes a lot for me to sit down and actually do work, just as it is taking me a lot to sit down and write tis post. I am a procrastinator, and I can thank my perfectionism for that.
Perfectionism Is To Blame
Is it that I am waiting for the time to be right? Am I waiting until I have all of the information I need? Do I just not feel like doing the assignment? No it is not my willpower or laziness (Although maybe sometimes that has an influence) that gets in the way of me completing my assignments.
It is in fact that I am afraid of imperfection. There is never a perfect moment when I will feel completely ready to do my work, because that moment does not exist. It is hard to get anything done when it needs to be perfect, and as we know, a perfectionist has to do everything flawlessly. By putting off my work, I attempt to avoid my chance of failure, but this just leads to more stress.
A Valid Reason!
Studies have found that there are deep psychological reasons behind procrastination, one major component in fact being that of perfectionism. A study was conducted at the University of Florida to examine the relationships between measures of perfectionism, procrastination, and psychological distress. Kenneth Rice who conducted the experiment writes, “a person with maladaptive perfectionist characteristics who wants to avoid scrutiny (evaluation) or is primed to be dissatisfied with performance may be more likely to procrastinate to avoid dissatisfaction, shame, or embarrassment.” Dr. Bill Knaus, writing for Psychology Today, agrees with this statement, seeing the root of the problem as being contingent-based-thinking, and that a perfectionist thinks their self-worth is continegent upon achieving perfection in a given situation. In other words there is no black and white: you either succedd or you fail.
Find Your Grey Area
When you chase perfection and set your standards high like I do, you are guaranteed to set yourself up for disappointment.
In college especially, it is important to be aware of the balance in your life of schoolwork, social life, and personal needs, and not strive for perfection in any of the facets. Easier said than done right? Balance is key, and if you are missing the “grey area” of your view on how well something needs to be completed, step back and think about the bigger picture, which is does it really matter? Complete your work to the best of your ability, but don’t overdo it.
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how students of Furman University stay on top of their school work in a healthy manner. Take a look at what some of them had to say!