Confessions of a Perfectionist Teenager by Jennifer Madero

Hey awesome internet people! How’s everything going in your respective country, home, life, etc? I hope all is well 🙂 So… Last week I had to hand in to my English teacher an essay assigment where I had to make a Memoir/ Narrative Essay with some proms she gave us.  Mine was What is a bad habit you have? Why do you consider bad? My teacher read the draft and said she liked it and that it was good, hence why I want to share it with everyone who’d like to read it. Thanks and have a great day! 😀

Confessions of a Perfectionist Teenager

Being a perfectionist can ruin your life, or at least make some parts of it complicated. Maybe it is by choice, or maybe some are born with it. Both ways, trying to make things your way and the most perfect and correct way can tend to be mind-shattering, friendship-ruiner, and stressing, among other things. You can be a perfectionist in one area only, and be a smelly mess in another. There are no limitations to it. No rodeos, no going around it. You are a perfectionist, because you simply are.

I can’t remember well when I started to be a perfectionist. Sometimes I think I’ve always been this way. Other times, I feel like it was a change that happened overnight, but dismiss it as being something absurd. If I am a perfectionist, it must have started slowly without me noticing it, until BAM–I simply am.

Kindergarten, 5 or 6 years old, there I was. I can clearly describe how I felt when coloring on my coloring book. If an octopus was purple, I had to paint it purple no matter what.  If an apple in real-life is red, it went down with that color. I had this thing in my head that I had to color things as they were. In extremely rare occasions, I would color something like, let’s say, a sun with a color pink or green. But to top it off,  my older sister once told me to color on the lines and to not get outside of them. I was bewildered by that. And from then on, I would always color first the lines, then the rest because my sister told me it was that way, and I had to do it because it was the right thing to do. That’s one of my first memories of being a perfectionist.

More recent events involve school work. I try to always do things on time, even though I waste my time in such a way it doesn’t seem like that. When I work alone it is fine. However, when I work in groups, my scratching and clawing perfectionist side jumps into action. I have these mental discussions with myself with how things should be, or how they shouldn’t. Sometimes I work well with the group because we all give different ideas as to make the work as best as possible. That’s the best outcome. The worst would be that no one else would want to work and I’m stuck working alone. Instead of complaining to them, I do the job. Why? Either I make it good, or risk getting it done by someone else the way I don’t want it. I prefer to make the work alone and that if there’s something wrong, it’s only my fault. I want things to go this way, and if I want them like that, I have to take the bull by the horns, go through more work, but I’ll have it as I envisioned. Might not sound so “perfectionist,” but there’s a moment when it is.

Two other areas of my life in which I’m a perfectionist are in writing and drawing. When I write, I have this constant nagging in my head telling me, “Jennifer, you’re doing it wrong! You are telling instead of showing! No one likes that. Either write good or not write at all.” I feel like the descriptions I make are horrible, the plot doesn’t have sustenance, no base whatsoever to make sense. I feel like my characters are nagging or angsty, boring or plain. I feel like all of what I write is utterly wrong. I’d put the worst author in history to shame. With all that, somehow, there is someone who tells me that what I wrote is actually kind of good, that with a few things here or less there, it’d be perfect. But I don’t believe them, because the nagging voice in my head says that it’s all wrong. I never acknowledged this until my mom told me so one day. I’ve been trying to write a book since seventh grade when I got really deep into writing. Eleventh grade, and I only have a pile of notebooks and hundreds of documents with interesting plots, but all unfinished because I want it to be perfect, either in a conscious or subconscious way.

With drawing is basically the same as with writing and my Kindergarten thing. I can’t draw much with a mental picture, unless I’ve practiced it a lot, or is something completely made up. I need to have a picture in my hands so that I can make it. And in my head, yeah the same nagging voice, tells me to do it exactly as it is. I can only make changes if I know how to do them well. The result is that from 100% of drawings I make, 70% are ended, the other 30% are discarded or never finished because they were wrong. I think the percentage is more, but you get the point.

        If we think of it, it’s not always bad to want things to be a certain way. The only thing is that we have to know our limits and how far we can go. If not, we’ll simply go down the hill without brakes and smash against something once we reach the bottom at full speed. We can’t always be perfectionist when creating stuff, or like me, you’ll end up finishing nothing. It actually feels like I suck, like I’m a good for nothing that never ends anything, but it’s because of the stupid nagging perfectionist voice in my head. How to deal with it? Practice. Practice. Practice. And repetition. Practice makes perfection, and if you don’t practice to be un-perfect in certain situations, it’ll slowly eat your mind. What I’ve recently been doing for this is make things and not try to think twice of it, at least in drawing and writing. Also, in school, I try to write in pen as much as I can. That way, I slowly start to lose the fear of doing a mistake and that it’ll look ugly. The key is know your limits, and not be limited by that voice. It’s all in your head. You control your head, so you can control that, only if you take action on time. Not everything is perfect. We are humans, and we might as well be the definitions of being un-perfect.

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7 thoughts on “Confessions of a Perfectionist Teenager by Jennifer Madero

  1. I color within the lines, too. I color it first, then work my work inside the picture. And I can also identify with the “friendship-ruiner” thing. Some things just have to be the way they are. I really liked this post 🙂


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