The great Michael Jackson once said, “I’m never pleased with anything, I’m a perfectionist, it’s part of who I am.” Some people think perfectionism is not necessarily a bad thing, but look where it got him. He pushed himself to his absolute limits and while he leaves behind and incredible legacy, was it all worth it?
I deal with my own perfectionist tendencies on a daily basis and have since my childhood. My parents never had to tell me to clean my room. I made sure my stuffed animals and books were lined up according to size and had fits of anxiety every time someone moved something. At one point, I wanted to vacuum the carpets every day (twice a day) to remove any footprints. It got so bad, my parents said I wasn’t allowed to use it anymore. Telling a kid they can’t do a chore is really somewhat amusing.
These days I find this personality trait comes out mainly at work. I am incredibly organized, to the point where I need to plan what I am going to do each day for at least 9 weeks in advance. I prefer to have my own work space as everything has to be “just so.” I don’t understand how people in my profession can have mountains of stuff piled up on their desks, but to each his own I suppose.
So, my question is, is this unhealthy? I mean, I understand how perfectionism can actually be counterproductive. If someone is spending more time organizing than getting actual work done, this is not a good thing. Sometimes, though, I wish I could have my own little business organizing other people’s lives. I take great pleasure in ensuring everything is in it’s rightful place and filing stacks of paper into their correct folders. Problem is, being so organized, this only ever takes me a few minutes. I would start making a mess if I could, but this would only stress me out.
Is perfectionism neurosis? Is it possible for a perfectionist by nature to tone it down or would that only make us more neurotic? I know, for me, if someone took away my post-it notes and highlighters the world just might end.