Three Reasons Why You Should Stop Trying To Be Perfect

Many college students deal with the pressure of trying to be perfect. While excelling at everything you do might seem ideal, it’s not always realistic. There are many perks that come with being a perfectionist, like receiving excellent grades or landing your dream job, but what happens when striving to be perfect starts to control your life? You might find that having high standards and lofty expectations makes you unhappy or unfulfilled. After taking on an 18-credit course load last semester, I discovered just that. Overwhelmed by my workload, I realized I was falling behind in Anthropology and couldn’t figure out how to catch up. It was my professor’s advice that changed my outlook. “Done is better than perfect,” she wrote at the bottom of an email to the class. Not only did I learn to be less hard on myself, I managed to catch up on all of my assignments. Here are three reasons why you should stop trying to be perfect.


1. Perfection Is The Cousin Of Procrastination

In a perfectionist’s world, your best feels like it’s never enough. It feels like a downward spiral when your conscience tells you that you could have done better no matter how hard you tried. Because perfectionists are more prone to doubt themselves, ambitions are met with despair rather than optimism. In an effort to avoid self criticism or failure it is common for perfectionists to procrastinate. While this might seem like a reasonable coping mechanism, it can hurt you in the long run. Succumbing to the cycle of perfectionism-procrastination not only causes you to fall behind; it perpetuates a harmful and sometimes unrealistic dialogue in your head about how you will never measure up. Surprisingly enough, it can take a serious toll on your body mentally and physically, harming your digestive system and even promoting insomnia. Sound familiar?



  1.   Perfection Can Cause Health Problems

Trying to do too much at once and be good at it takes a toll on your mental and physical health. This past spring, I put a great deal of pressure on myself to balance my schedule and relationships. I realized that not only did I feel uninspired but I got sick  more often. According to a study by Trinity Western University, perfectionist tendencies encourage the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can not only make you sick but ultimately increases the likelihood of early death by 51 percent compared to people who don’t identify as perfectionists. In order to let go of that stress I had to identify my limitations and prioritize my time. I did this by breaking down larger tasks into smaller pieces so that I was much more likely to finish one task and move on rather than deliberate over whether or not I had done a “perfect” job.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates


3.  Perfection Can Cause Anxiety

Spending too much time dwelling on the shoulda,’ coulda,’ woulda’s leads to anxiety.  Anxiety can push you to live in constant fear or worry as well as develop  symptoms like obsessively cleaning, nail biting, and panic attacks. I noticed that coping with trying to be perfect often triggered me to clean obsessively or experience other symptoms of anxiety. According to a study done at the University of Connecticut, doctors found that people often resort to repetitive behaviors like cleaning and other compulsive behaviors after being placed under high-stress situations, because it engenders a feeling of control.