This is a Poem about Perfectionism

Do you know anything about perfectionism? If you clicked on this link, perfectionism may be an old friend of yours, too. It’s a piece of me that has brought me many gifts, like achieving my goals and finishing seemingly unreachable tasks. However, it can be harmful when it takes over my life.

This poem is about making room for perfectionism. Letting it in, saying hello, perhaps even dancing a bit, but definitely not letting it jump into the drivers seat and drop all other parts of me off (like joy and inspiration).

Incase you aren't sure what perfectionism is or need a refresher, according to Wikipedia, it's…

“A personality trait characterized by a person's striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others' evaluations…. When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they often fall into depression.”

A poem is a new format for my blog. Today’s post is a result of not having the article ready for this week that I would have liked, and even not flushing this one out as much as I would have liked. Instead, I'm allowing myself to be vulnerable and imperfect by settling for good enough.

I’m sharing a poem that I wrote for a slam poetry class. Perhaps soon I will record it on video for you all, but for now, here’s a bit of my heart in writing.

This is a poem about perfectionism.
Grows in proportion to my reaction to it.
Looms in size, threatening to consume my fingers and my inspiration.

This is a poem about perfectionism.
A hushed whisper in my ear.
Put a disclaimer on all that you do. All that you create. All that you aspire to be.
Because it’ll never be enough. Why would it be enough?

This is a poem about perfectionism.
Push against it, and the whisper booms. Contorts and squeezes. Spits fire.
You are going to fail. Don’t even try. If it can’t be perfect, it should be nothing at all.

So, I wrote this poem.
This is a poem about perfectionism.
Instead of pushing, I whisper back.
Okay. I give up. There's room for you here, but you can't have it all.

The light returns, illuminating the truth of the different parts of me. 
Perfectionism is a paper dragon.
Masquerading as a fire-breathing beast.
All along, it was the shadow threatening to burn me down.

But, when I tap into the light, and lean into the breath.
I see that there are no disclaimers to be given.
What we create is mine to hold,
Not yours to engulf in flames and to tear down.

This is a poem about perfectionism.
Because, you see, perfectionism and I are old friends.
We do this dance where I forget that I am the lead.

Perfectionism and I, we both get scared of dancing, and we freak out.
And when we freak out, we are like gasoline on each other's flames,
Threatening to burn us all to the ground.

So, instead, we’re learning to live side by side.
Because, inspiration is another friend of mine,
But, they’re sensitive to fire and rage.
Inspiration won’t play when guns are blazing.

They'll only play when perfectionism has dialed down the heat,
And settled into its rightful place,
Which is side by side amongst fear, joy, and passion.


Then, I'm able to return to the coolness of my breath
That anchors me to hold all of the friends who make up my inner workings.
And we acclaim to make room for all of me,
Because, after all, this is a poem about perfectionism.


How does perfectionism show up in your life? How do you make room for it, and not allow it to run the show? What are some ways perfectionism has helped you?