For pretty much as long as I can remember, my primary drive was to be as "perfect" as possible. In hindsight, I can definitely correlate the level of confidence I was feeling at any point in my life to my drive to achieve some level of perfection. To me, perfectionism means to be as far from failure and mistakes as possible. In my early years, perfection came in the form of performing well academically. I knew all the courses to take, all the extra-curricular activities to participate in, and all the awards to collect in order to feel like I was making my parents proud. More than anything else, I craved validation from my parents and beat myself up whenever I failed to be "perfect" for them. It seems as though from an early age, I taught myself to seek validation from the people around me through the "things" I did or could do for them, rather than simply live for myself.
The problem with perfectionism is that it is like running a race where the finish line constantly moves further from you, no matter how close you seem to crossing it. It's an incredibly frustrating and defeating mindset because often times, the notion of perfection is created entirely on unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves. A few weeks ago, I read a quote that stated, "you are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress". I felt my mind almost having a meltdown trying to process this. It was so simple, yet I've constantly failed to see myself as a "work in progress" because my eye was always on the "masterpiece".
Thing is, even masterpieces aren't perfect. The pieces of art we laud the most can arguably be critiqued with parts that can be considered "imperfect". The beautiful thing is not the perfection but the efforts by the artist for their creation. During the course of my life, I had created a narrative for myself that my imperfections made me unworthy and flawed. I berated myself and instead of embracing these qualities or learning from them, I simply designed a new target that I could reach that would neutralize these mistakes in order to make myself someone worthy of love, respect, kindness, etc.
However, like I stated earlier... "perfection" is like a target that moves away the closer you get to it. It's like a mirage in the middle of a desert. It's a beautiful idea, but's it's not real.