Do you Struggle with Perfectionism?

Nov 24, 2019 | Creativity, Mental Health

It Starts When We’re Young

When I was in kindergarten I remember taking some sort of aptitude test. It required me to cut a circle out of a piece of red construction paper.

I started cutting. The sides looked uneven so I snipped and trimmed again and again until I had a red circle in my palm the size of a cherry. I remember being disappointed about the smallness of that dot. It still looked uneven. I wanted to start over.

Perfectionism stems from being a people pleaser. It is a behaviour that attempts to control other people’s perception of us. It’s not striving for excellence, nor is it healthy.

Dr Brene Brown refers to perfectionism as armour; “Perfection is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. Early praise for achievement and performance has become a dangerous and debilitating belief system.” She says that overall it’s not a mechanism to avoid shame, it’s a function of shame itself.

Most of my life I tried to control the way other people saw me when actually I was preventing them from seeing the REAL me. I feared that if people saw me in all of my brokenness than no one would like or love me.

Today I am comfortable in my discomfort. I like being different, difficult, strange, or as my lovely husband calls me “complex.” He says; “Complex different from complicated because complicated is hard.” He loves a challenge and life with me is never boring. I take it as a compliment.

Don’t Let ‘Perfect’ Discourage Creation

This relates to creative pursuits. To use another cliche, perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. In order for me to create, my goal cannot and will not ever be ‘perfection.’ How could any of us possibly master a craft without making mistakes first? Mistakes are the best teachers (and trust me, sometimes the things you do to cover up mistakes offer the most incredible discoveries).

My daughter has this book called, Beautiful Oops. It’s about turning your drips, rips and tears into something lovely. We now refer to any artistic mistakes as ‘a beautiful oops’ (she’s already like me in that she’s hard on herself when she screws up). I highly recommend the book for mini perfectionist kiddos (or anyone really).

Be different. Be weird. Be messy & imperfect.


  1. Susan Denecke

    glad you are back in all your perfect imperfect glory.

    • Dawn

      It’s good to be back. Hoping to ditch the perfectionist stress. x


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