Is my perfectionism causing my anxiety?

By Indre Bagdonaite

I don’t know about you, but I recently discovered that I have extreme traits of a perfectionist. I never really thought about myself as one, although when I think about it now, it makes perfect sense. I’ve been told that experiences and responsibilities you had since your childhood can influence this a lot. Well…I do find myself wanting and trying to do too many things at once just so I can find myself succeeding at something. Just so I can have my family be proud of me for something. But if you asked me whether any of these achievements have actually made me happy, I’d most likely say no about 99% of them. Why? Because some things I’ve worked hard to achieve, I didn’t want, but the things I truly wanted to achieve, I didn’t believe I could. So instead I chose to have options. I don’t mean options in a healthy manner. I mean, I took upon so many options that it got to a point I rarely ever slept. Always on the go. Never at peace, let alone at ease.

Now, when I think about where this severe anxiety came from, it only makes sense to link it back to wanting to be good at something even if I don’t enjoy it. Have you ever felt that you are always pressured to be perfect? To know what you want? To know who you are? And then you almost find yourself at the verge of exploding out of disappointment and decide to get involved in every activity, every educational opportunity you find just so you can put something down in your CV and tell people you’ve done something amazing. Because we are always told ‘you don’t have time to be thinking’, ‘why do you still not know what you want to do?’, ‘how can you not know who you are?’. So, we feel that pressure from others and start pressuring ourselves, because we don’t think we are doing enough. We are doubting our abilities and whether our excuses are good enough to not do something. We are pressuring ourselves…To be perfect. So, you end up finding yourself sitting in your room alone, sad and just so angry at the world. And then you get angry at yourself. ‘Why am I pitying myself? Get up, clean your room, organise your budget, colour-code your notes, revise, apply for jobs, make sure your personal statements are perfect. Make sure you keep being perfect’. You don’t even feel yourself trying to make every aspect of your life perfect. Except from your mental health. You forget self-care. You look at others and what they achieved and get shaky entering a room with loads of people in. You ask yourself if they’ve done more than you; have they achieved more than you; do they know who they are?

You find yourself grasping for air. You cannot breathe. Your heart is pounding. But wait. If you really think about it, they aren’t perfect either. No one is. And it gets to a point where you aren’t even competing with others, but you are competing with your inner self. An unhealthy battle with yourself. You get anxious when you think about something you’ve achieved years ago and think ‘what am I doing now?’. So, what we should do instead is let go of perfectionism and maybe, just maybe, the inner battle will stop. Maybe the anxiety will stop? Because instead of choosing to pressure yourself and doubt yourself, you will start doing what you love and be proud of yourself for achieving something. Even if it’s small. Even if you just feel proud of yourself for getting out of bed today. That’s an achievement. Be proud. Love yourself. Don’t get lost in the inner isolation of perfectionism. Take yourself out for a meal. Buy yourself something nice. Stand in front of the mirror and say, ‘Well done’. Don’t let your anxiety define you and control your life. YOU are in control. And you choose how you want to live your life.

Thanks for reading,


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