I was reminded this morning about how rampant my perfectionism is. At my work you can get into the stairwell without your card key but since there are companies on the other floors besides our two, you need your card key to get out. Great set-up, right? As I have done once or twice in the past I went in there and then realized I was locked in.
Instead of doing what any sane person would do, which is when they heard people on the other side pound on the door until someone rescued them, I waited in that stairwell. I waited until someone came in and I could pretend I was on my way out, just standing there in my gloves and lab coat with my melting samples. Of course I mentally tortured myself at the same time with things like "Why are you so stupid?" and "How hard is this to remember?" I mean, I had to pass the time somehow, right?
I can't even simply forget something without deciding that this is an example of my worth as a person. And then, god forbid, I definitely can't let anyone know that I'm not perfect. Other people can forget something and I wouldn't think any less of them but I'm convinced that everyone else will hate me and laugh behind my back if they knew I screwed something up. It's just so ridiculous. And so much energy goes into this. I even found myself saying later when my stomach was rumbling for lunch, "You're such an idiot, you don't deserve it."
What if I could use all the brain power and effort that goes into trying to be perfect for something else? Unfortunately, I've never quite figured out how to turn that switch off in my brain. There is a never-ending litany of "Don't screw up, don't screw up. Stupid, stupid, stupid." And in some ways it has been helpful in my life. I've done really well academically and professionally because I have this drive to be perfect. But at the end of the day is that really worth my sanity? I don't know.
By the way, if anyone's interested I stood in that stairwell for 45 minutes. Sigh.