Tag Archives: perfectionism

Five Things to Keep in Mind if You’re a Perfectionist

It’s not easy being a perfectionist. I don’t say that because I’m some kind of psychological and behavioral expert. I know it both from observation as a pastor and from personal experience: I’m a card-carrying member of the club (he says, to the shock of no friend or family member).

And if you have a bit of the perfectionist in you, then I’m guessing you didn’t need me to tell you that it can be challenging. You’re well aware that you’re liable to get frustrated with others—spouse/kids/coworkers/friends/person in the next lane/etc.—when your (rather high) expectations aren’t met. You know that you may get even more frustrated when you don’t meet those expectations. You’d like to be more encouraging, but your focus continually goes toward what needs improvement. You don’t always like to delegate things to other people because you’re worried they may not have the same standard as you do. You’d sometimes rather not get started on a project because you’re worried you can’t do it as well as you’d like. And you get discouraged when you can seem to get on top of everything that needs your attention. We could go on.

The Duck Syndrome: Do You Have It?

The perfect life. What does that look like for you? A perfect look? A perfect family? Perfect grades? The perfect friend group surrounding you? The perfect prayer life? This week, another article in the New York Times was written detailing the pressures of perfectionism that college students face. It’s not the first one that’s been written, highlighting once again the pressure that often leads to anxiety, depression, shame, and even suicide. After a popular student’s unexpected suicide at Penn State, a task force was formed to examine mental health on campus and, among other things, it “recognized a potentially life-threatening aspect of campus culture: Penn Face.”

It continues:

“An apothegm long used by students to describe the practice of acting happy and self-assured even when sad or stressed, Penn Face is so widely employed that it has showed up in skits performed during freshman orientation.

While the appellation is unique to Penn, the behavior is not. In 2003, Duke jolted academe with a report describing how its female students felt pressure to be “effortlessly perfect”: smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful and popular, all without visible effort. At Stanford, it’s called the Duck Syndrome. A duck appears to glide calmly across the water, while beneath the surface it frantically, relentlessly paddles. “