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Why you should let go of perfectionism in your education

Proud to be perfect imperfect

Too often, my desire to start a piece of work in just the right way would result in me delaying getting started until I’m up against a tight deadline. I have been guilty of the 3am rush to complete a piece of work – to the highest standard. No, a C grade would never do for me. I was disappointed with a B (cue much disappointment over my GCSE results). I wasn’t good enough unless I got an A. My self-worth relied on those distinctions.

But how was that helping me?

It certainly didn’t advance my education or career. All I really needed was a few C grades to progress. Instead, I put myself under so much pressure to meet my own unrealistic expectations of perfection. I would be working late into the night, carefully crafting my words before I allowed anyone to see them. Creating. Editing. Writing. Editing. I was stressed. Tearful. Isolated.

It wasn’t until a few years back that I realised I could never really meet my own high standards. I was never going to feel I’d delivered that perfect performance. We’re imperfect by our very nature after all.

I could finally see the impact that my striving to reach this fictional place of perfection had on my wellbeing. I noticed what I was giving up in my life in my attempts to reach perfection and I decided it wasn’t worth it.

It actually hurt a little when I submitted a ‘below par’ assignment to university for the very first time – even more so when I learned I had achieved less than 50%.  My pride was dented but it did feel good knowing that it was my choice not to spend lots of my precious time on it.

Today, I’m pleased to have completed my three workbooks and a presentation for my volunteer management certification in record time. I’m ready to hand them in on the last day of our course, weeks before they are actually due. As you can tell, this is unheard of for me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve let perfection go here.

This is certainly not my best work; I even wrote straight in the workbooks instead of typing my responses up and editing as I go. It’s more like a shitty first draft before I polish it up to make it acceptable to be seen in the light of day. My writing is scruffy. I’ve made mistakes and scribbled them out. My sentences aren’t logically ordered; I’ve written as I’ve thought. I’ve even used blue and black pens and a pencil to answer one question (which I did in three parts as I remembered things to add). That’s not to say that I haven’t spent a decent amount of time working on this. I’ve spent several hours writing each week, but I’ve not spent so much time on it that it eats into my life and responsibilities. And I no longer care about top grades, all I want now is to pass with my wellbeing intact.

If you’re ready to embrace your quieter nature and let go of thinking you’re not good enough, join a community of people on the same path in the Quiet Connections Community.

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