This I Believe

Stephanie - South Hadley, Massachusetts
Entered on January 20, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Most say perfectionism is a fault; I believe in the strength and inspiration of my perfectionism. In elementary school, I finished projects much later than other students and sometimes was unable to complete activities because I ran out of time; but I knew that when I did finish, they would be perfect. My parents and teachers tried to educate me to be more conscious of time by limiting how long I worked on projects. After eighteen years, I still have not learned the lesson of working quickly and doing a good job.

As I began to take responsible for managing my time, I became more intent on doing each task to the best of my ability. Perfectionism does not disappear over time, and for me it almost seemed to grow. I became obsessed with doing everything perfectly, but also doing everything. Naturally, I ran into problems, but did not give up. I believed that striving for perfection was the only way to survive.

Friends would to ask me why I was always working on homework and my parents would reminded me periodically that I did not need to be stressing myself out to get all A’s for them. I wasn’t. I needed to get the grades and do the hard work for myself. I felt physically ill if I turned a paper or project in that I knew was not my very best. Knowing that I did not have to be perfect for anyone else only reinforced in my mind that I had to do this for myself.

It was not until the college application process that I truly learned the negative side of perfectionism. I was confidant; I had successfully challenged myself and I was an active participant and leader within my school. I felt I was a well-rounded, intelligent and talented young adult. As I applied early decision to my dream school, I had no doubts that all my hard work and late nights would pay off. When I got my deferral letter, my ego was hurt, but I looked at it as an opportunity to prove and improve myself. I was warned numerous times that I could still be rejected. I chose to ignore the warnings and went ahead doing everything in my power that I could. Reading the rejection letter, I felt that I had betrayed my parents, my teachers and most of all myself. I was not good enough.

I have learned that perfection does not exist. I have also discovered that I can use my perfectionism as a tool to push myself farther, and as an inspiration. Growing up we are always told to do our best, I have no worries that I always will. I am also confidant because now I believe in the inner drive which perfectionism can ignite. I also believe that living as a perfectionist is my way to strive to be the best I can.