The irony: I started writing this post about my big breakthrough with perfectionism and I spent 20 minutes writing and deleting the first line of text. At least I’m self-aware!
For me 2017 sucked. Big time! But it’s over noooow.
However, when things suck, and you want to make them stop you have to do something! My something was that I started analyzing my thoughts and actions. It turns out I have some perfectionist tendencies, which I wasn’t aware of at the time. Why? Because, and here comes my big breakthrough, I thought perfectionism equals being perfect. How foolish of me!
I’m such a perfectionist that I don’t think I’m perfect enough to label myself one. (excerpt from my journal, 15.09.2017)
Not that labels are that important, but sometimes it helps you recognize certain behaviors or tendencies. In my case, it helped a lot, because before coming to this realization I didn’t look much into what perfectionism is and how it manifests. Self-awareness is a wonderful thing!
My tips for dealing with perfectionist tendencies
1. find a new hobby
In October I started attending a knitting group to deal with the darkness that swallows Denmark in the winter months. It turned out to be a very enjoyable experience.
2. set realistic/ small objectives
My only objective was to learn the most basic knitting technique and to make a scarf for myself. Youtube tutorials ftw!
3. don’t be afraid to start over
Learning is a process and sometimes things don’t turn out good from the first try. I did some mistakes while knitting and my scarf began to look kinda wonky, so I undid all my progress and started again. This meant I had to undo about 3 hours of work and a good 20 cm of the scarf. Instead of beating myself down on the mistake, I focused on the fact that redoing the work will make me a better at knitting. You do need to be very careful when you decide what to start over and what can pass as it is, in its imperfect form.
4. look from another perspective
When I finished my scarf I realized that I’m not very happy with it. The knitting looked good and huge mistakes were avoided, but it was too short. Aaa, and I wasn’t very happy with the quality of yarn. It’s soooo easy to find flaws! I couldn’t do much about the yarn, but I could do something about its shape. So I sowed it together and now I have a very cozy infinity scarf.
5. enjoy it and be proud of your work
Celebrate the end of your project and be proud of what you did. As seen in the previous point, it’s so easy to find flaws, but you have to make a conscious effort to look at the positives. I learned how to knit and I made myself a piece of clothing, how awesome is that?!
6. repeat it!
You’ll have to repeat the steps and to incorporate these tips into areas where perfectionism affects you the most. For me, knitting was a good way to exercise and expose myself to situations where I had to reflect and deal with my perfectionist tendencies. I think it’s a good idea to follow these steps while doing something palpable because it’s much easier to acknowledge your progress and success.
Look at me, all happy and proud to be wearing something I made!