Dear Perfectionist,

I like SoulPancake maybe half as much as I love i’s creator, Rainn Wilson. Given how much I love him and The Office, I like SoulPancake a considerable amount. I recently re-watched one of their videos titled, “Dear Perfectionist”. The video itself follows the title- it’s an open letter addressed to the speaker himself, the perfectionist called into question. Even though it’s a letter, several parts played in my ears like lines of poetry. One of my favorite parts:

“Obsession with perfection is a rope you tie around yourself with every thought a new strand drawing tighter. Paralysis by analysis. Unable to move, you sink.”

Like most students here at Geneseo, I was always called a perfectionist, by friends, teachers, parents and coaches. I was driven. Yet, the term never felt like it fit me. I’ve never called myself a perfectionist, because I think perfection is both something everyone tries to obtain and a goal that no one actually believes exists within reach.

Right? When we were little they told us, “nobody is perfect.” I accepted that when I was a child and I sure as hell believe in it now. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the pressure to do things right just melts away. Every week day, my brain nags at me to say the smart thing, write the right thing to receive the high grade. Despite my refusal to label this as perfectionism, I do see the madness in the pressure and fixation. Which is why pieces like  “Dear Perfectionist” resonate with me. I’ve failed countless quizzes in Geneseo’s Geology department and one time a Psych professor gave me a C+ on a paper. But like the video says, “You’ve become so fixated by the little details, you have forgotten what is real.” When writing poetry, I can focus so fiercely on one word, one phrase, one line, working to refine it until it sounds perfect, only to create something that’s not honest, not real.

Videos like this one can bring perspective on days when you’re cramming for that test or preparing for the massive presentation that all of your group mates neglected. There is a price to pay when you endeavor to be perfect, but there is no harm in working your ass off.

Sincerely,

Allison

One Reply to “Dear Perfectionist,”

  1. Allison,
    Thank you for sharing that! This is exactly what I needed because I feel like everyone in Geneseo is a perfectionist, and that includes me lol. So I think this is really important for writers who identify as a perfectionists or do many perfectionist things because often what gets in the way of my own writing is the feeling that what I’m about to write won’t portray the emotion I’m trying to evoke perfectly. Even when I logically tell myself I’ll have plenty of drafts and time to think it over, I get overwhelmed and tend to keep myself in a state of stagnancy. This has been my number one struggle as a writer.

    What has helped me the most is just to reflect a lot about my feelings when this happens. And to read something I wrote that people had a good reaction to, it just helps because I know, oh okay so I can write something people will have a good reaction to and though I don’t need that right away, it helps to understand what people liked about things I have written in the past in order to identify my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. And then when I’m obsessing over something because I don’t think it’s doing what I want it to, I tell myself I’m rushing it and I can come back to it if necessary.

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