Healthy Perfectionism


I’d been told many times I was a perfectionist. It’s not that I’m obsessive about EVERYTHING and want EVERYTHING in my life to be perfect. For instance, my room is literally a dump, and I’d careless until a roach is spotted, but I can be crazily obsessive with things that I care about.

My perfectionism has brought me a a lot of stress in the past. At one point, I sort of diagnosed myself with depression and anorexia, thanks to Google and WebMD, of course. I remember going through a ridiculous weight loss regime after two business acquaintances told me I gained weight. When I heard the first guy telling me that, I could still laugh about it. When I heard it the second time, I completely lost it. I went to a fitness store and bought a stationary bike the next day. I biked two hours a day. I cut down nearly all calorie consumptions. I survived on vegetables, fruits, wheat toasts and coke zero. I lost like 10 pounds in 2 months. Sometimes I’d force myself to vomit after binge eating. You get the story.

Around the same time, I was also very unhappy with about my career bottleneck and my relationship with my ex. I couldn’t understand how I couldn’t get what I wanted even though I had tried my very best. I thought hard work ALWAYS paid off. Why couldn’t I get my dream job even though everyone was telling me I was perfect for that? Why couldn’t he love me more given I had tried so hard to make him love me?

I often compared myself to other people. I looked up to those more experienced, success ones and wondered how much more successful they must have been when they were my age. I also look at people my age and wonder why I wasn’t the MOST successful one in the group. I couldn’t understand why my hard work couldn’t translate into results that I wanted. Every time something didn’t go my way, I always blamed it on MYSELF. There had to be something I could have done differently, I thought. I was constantly unhappy, but most people didn’t know it because I always wore a smile. Deep down though, I was even suicidal.

I almost drove myself crazy with my perfectionism.

Until I had my epiphany.

One day I just realized: I wanna be happy. Happiness is more important than anything else in the world.

I started getting rid of things that made me unhappy and started doing things that made me content. I separated myself from people who didn’t want the best for me and just wanted to watch me fall. I began to recognize how special I am. Comparing myself to others just doesn’t do me justice because no one is like me.

Another major source of contentment is to let go of trying to be perfect.

It doesn’t mean I don’t try or work hard anymore. I still want to get things done perfectly when I’m passionate about those things. Trust me, I’ve been spending countless man hours perfecting things that no one cares about in my novel Florid Eyes, from trim size to paper type to indentation. I want to give my best. The major difference with my attitude is that I no longer expect perfect results. I may sell only ten books. My readers may hate my story. If it does happen, it’s probably gonna suck, but I can’t control how people think of me or my work or my aspiration. If you’ve heard of the butterfly effect, you probably know how one decision from someone living half a continent away can affect someone else’s decision. Sometimes it’s the system’s fault. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault. There are probably one million factors affecting whether I succeed in doing whatever I do, but I can only control one factor: my hard work and devotion.

So this is what I remind myself now whenever my control freak nature kicks in: Give your best and leave the rest to God/mother nature/Allah…whoever. In my case, it’d be Steve Jobs. LOL. You get the point.


About Nicky

Nicky English is a journalist, an educator, a podcaster, a couch potato, a dreamer, and a child at heart. Learning is her passion, so is the English language, which she believes is the tool to unlock the door of knowledge. Born in Hong Kong, she received intensive writing training at The University of Iowa, where she double-majored in journalism and political science. Apart from the Hawkeye State, she’s lived in Chicago and Philadelphia. When she was a guest student at Georgetown University, she fell in love with Washington, D.C. She also has a Master of Arts in Communication. A little side note—she cannot imagine a world without her Mac and iDevices. Like many crazy ones, she hopes to change the world one day at a time.
This entry was posted in Apple & gadgets, beauty & fashion, dating & relationship, Florid Eyes: A Novel, friends, health & exercise, identity crisis, work and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Healthy Perfectionism

  1. very relate-able 🙂

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