Perfectionism: Do Not Resuscitate

You know that really cliché job interview question, “What are your weaknesses?” And that even more cliché answer, “I’m a perfectionist, so sometimes I work too much and am really hard on myself for any mistakes I make.” And then the interviewer nods their head like this is some kind of profound confession.

If I were an interview fairy who could magically appear and call bullshit every time someone said that… well, I just think that would be really funny. To be fair, I’m pretty sure I have given this exact answer before. The problem is that it’s a copout. It shows the interviewer that you have high standards for yourself and that you actually do value perfectionism–if you read between the lines. But for some reason, we’ve all tacitly agreed to play this ridiculous game.

Can we issue a DNR (“do not resuscitate”) on the perfectionist ideal? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all be more honest with ourselves and each other? If we could live in my world, people would give real answers…

“I have an aversion to people pleasing, so you won’t find me telling others what they wanna hear.”

“I’m very sensitive to negative energies, so if I get a bad vibe from my colleagues, they will be subjected to my crystal collection.”

“I can’t concentrate if I’m being interrupted, so I usually lock my office door to avoid the chatty Susans.”

I digress.

My journey with battling perfectionism has seen some twists, unexpected turns, and obstacles in disguise. Perfectionism is a masculine approach, plain and simple. I received overt and covert messages at home, in school, and at church that I must be perfect starting from a young age.

Here is a photo of me trying to hold back tears (which I still have a tendency to do) at an award ceremony in elementary school. I didn’t receive the highest award for good grades that year. I received the second highest award, an achievement that any kid should be proud of. I don’t recall any other children crying that day for not having the best award, but in my mind, I had failed. How could I from such a young age hold myself to perfectionist standards?

And why the hell did my parents print this photo and put it in an album?

If only I could give little Krissy a hug. Girl, you got a lot to learn. You’re so sensitive and don’t even know it. I wish I could say that she figured it all out sooner than later, but it done take a good 30+ years.

“There is a potential heroine in everywoman. She is the leading lady in her own life story on a journey that begins at her birth and continues through her lifetime.”

Goddesses in Everywoman, Jean Shinoda Bolen

I am developing a new relationship with my “weaknesses” and “imperfections.” But I don’t want to call it by either of those words anymore because there is an assumption of wrongfulness. I’m a hotheaded Artemis archetype, and I’ve been that way for a long as I can remember going back to my childhood. I recently had a significant breakthrough in the way I perceive this part of me, which I have often felt shameful about because it’s not how women are “supposed to act”. What I realized is that my claws-out personality rose to the occasion from a young age because I needed to self protect. She helped me manage emotionally damaging situations, fight back, and move on with my life. Without her, I would have shrunk in spirit, mind, and soul and likely grown up with a very ineffectual Persephone archetype.

When I was disciplined (spanked) as a young child, I would get mad. I didn’t cower or people-please my parents. I became straight-up furious. Sometimes I even returned to the crime (rummaging through the kitchen cabinets, dropping crumbs on the floor, making a general mess–you know, evil things like that).

I appreciate the strength I have from Artemis. But, I do need to balance her out sometimes depending on the occasion with softer, more receptive feminine qualities. Artemis is not an imperfection. She’s a powerful source of energy that I can call upon, but I also have the choice to ask her to step aside when other energies are more useful. 

This is what I mean by having a feminine practice. Through accessing my deepest self, I am reviving my femininity. I source her from within, and the depths of her keep on coming.

If you are a woman who grew up in a masculine world, you may have silenced your femininity in order to survive–but to a detriment. Fear not, for the feminine is always there. She lives inside you and is waiting to be seen and heard.