Perfectionist.

I want everything to be as good as it is possible to be.

Hold on, I don’t mean everything. I mean, that only happens in an ideal world, and we all know that that’s impossible.

Before I continue – I kind of understand why my friend said that all of my posts are “dark-themed” and that the “overall picture is dark, not individual pieces”. I’d like to compare my writing style to a shadow, and Merriam-Webster’s first definition hits the spot (albeit a bit stiff and pretentious):

1 : partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light are cut off by an interposed opaque body.

I’d like to think that a little bit of light and optimism bleed into some parts of my texts.

I want everything certain things that I care about to be as good as they are possible to be. This is definitely a more applicable sentence.

Obviously, we live and learn, so during the younger and naiver (yes, I had to Google the comparative adjective of naive, as I was unsure whether it’s naiver or more naive) days, I’ve had preposterous expectations for some inexperienced situations. I’m proud to say that I’ve grown up and taken a strong dose of reality, so I definitely do not have any of these misconceptions anymore. Here’s some examples:

  • Not skipping / not being tardy for any of my classes in college and acing all of them. I’m also going to throw in double majoring and breezing through all of my courses.
  • My alcoholic tolerance without eating anything beforehand (especially when I first started drinking). I’ve learned the hard way that eating and hydration are crucial before drinking. Pacing yourself is also important. Don’t drink just for the sake of getting wasted, because alcohol is actually a depressant.
  • That being said, referring to the previous point: my ability to avoid or magically not have any hangovers. I don’t get hangovers frequently, but when I do, they are actually terrible. My body rejects everything, including water. When I do eat during my hangover, my body hits the panic button and I run to the nearest toilet to vomit.
  • Dealing with a startup business and expecting that it’d thrive without a lot of speed bumps and stress. I could not be more wrong in this case, as it’s really taken a toll on my physical and mental well-being, but there are small victories and I feel the need to remind myself that when I need some lift me up thoughts.
  • Magically possess the natural ability to drive well. Wait, let me rephrase. I can drive adequately, but parallel parking and backing the car up? I’m still trying over here…
  • Envisioning a happy ever after…you know, the whole lovey-dovey perfect relationship. The super romantic, over-the-top (or as millennials say: extra) dates, the first kiss, the anniversaries (I don’t even know why, because I’m actually terrible with remembering dates. Maybe it’s because I’m forgetful? I literally have to write down my friends’ birthdays on my planner or I’d forget.) – essentially, the whole nine yards. Relationships are a lot harder than they seem. Definitely super glad I’ve gotten this misconception out of the way.

I’m pretty sure I still have molds of how specific situations should ideally play out, but since I’m trying to be more honest over here, so here’s some instances as contrasts:

  • Half-Marathon:
    • Ideal: I’d run in a steady pace while listening to music. I’m tired, but I’m also able to go on without much struggle as I’m in the runner’s zone. There’ll be times where I make a brief stop to take a few swigs of water and then I’ll zoom on until I cross the finish line. My race time is faster than I expected it to be.
    • Reality: Why did I sign up for this again? I’m sleepy. I want need coffee. It’s so hot. I can run but I’m not getting into that comfortable zone. I feel like I’m going to throw bile up. Why are my legs cramping? I am so thirsty already, is there a water station because I can chug water at this moment. My earphones keep falling. Can I really do this? Maybe I should give up. Then somehow drag myself through 21 km through sheer willpower and my desire to collapse and die peaks afterward. I’d shower (and probably collapse in the shower, too) and then seek out bottomless mimosas at 10 am if I can finish by then. I’m not even kidding on the mimosas part.
  • Food & Wine Business:
    • Ideal: My imported products are loved by buyers in specific stores and there’s a physical existence. After more exposure (collaborations with bloggers, celebrities, and TV shows), my personal brand gets bigger and is more widely known. I get to import a bigger range of products, and then my first concept store opens up – a relaxing and minimalist wine bar that integrates and features most of the goods I’ve picked out. The expansion doesn’t stop in the physical store, but also branches out and continues online, and possibly overseas.  Obviously, this requires a lot of work and connections, but I’ve been putting everything I could in and it’s working.
    • Reality: So…much…work. So…much…stress. Buyers respond to my requests slowly, and ask for another discount? It’s already wholesale price. If I were to work with them, sure, I get adequate and additional exposure, but I’m also towards the brink of losing money. Brand exposure isn’t as fast and easy as I’d want it to be, and I’m still trying to figure out how to use Instagram to engage people (and if you were to look at my personal account, well, it’s a tragedy since I can barely keep up). I’d love to sell wine online, but regulations in Taiwan is stopping this from being legal. I’ve been having talks with online platforms in Shanghai, but even that is a lot of information to search about, and not just logistics. I’d have to check up regulations, and whether I should open a company in China yet (but really, too soon). Maybe I should have a physical store prior to any other consideration first. Wine bar will probably survive in Taipei, but there’s a lot more to worry about when I open a physical store…

…I’m sure I can go on, but the point I’m trying to make is that nothing goes exactly the way I envision it, and it’s a part of life. True perfection only exists on my mind.

I just want to do the best I can for shit I do care about. I don’t want to half-ass in general. I already have adequacy and self doubt issues that you can probably tell by my  distortion and insecurity posts, and I guess a defense mechanism or an attempt for me to ever so slightly alleviate that feeling of inadequacy is to try and do whatever is at task perfectly.

It’s a tad bit ironic to say that, because I‘ve probably fucked up a lot. In fact, I probably cared about being a perfectionist (in all possible aspects) a lot more when I was younger. I believe that my Asian culture and the importance of “face” were both partial factors that propelled this desire for perfectionism. I also really wanted to please my parents and not only satisfy their expectations, but to exceed them. Then I grew up and realized there’s no such threshold, yet the internal struggle and impact stuck with me.

It took a long time to untangle the internal mess that my insecurity and feeling of inadequacy have caused. I’m still not really sure if it’s entirely straightened out now, but it’s a lot better than before. In my developmental psychology course, there was a heavy basis on nature and nurture. Both of these play crucial roles in child development. I’ve already resigned to the fact that I’m going to be constantly chasing the non-existent perfection partially due to my upbringing (nurture!). However, I’ve adjusted / I’m still trying to adjust so that the motive behind the pursuit isn’t focused on getting other people’s approval.

There are issues that I don’t care about at all. I’m willing to be super passive about them and not care about the results. I don’t even try in those fields.

There are issues that I somewhat care. I’d put in a little effort, and the outcome doesn’t necessarily exert any influence on me. I don’t strive for excellence.

There are issues that I care a lot about. Maybe I care a bit too much to the extent that my friends think that I’m overreacting (which usually applies for people and subject matters that I give more than just a shit about). I voluntarily devote my time, effort, and money (if necessary) into these people and causes. If there are any tasks I need to complete, I plan meticulously beforehand and then execute the steps with precaution. Then I go on an internal mental meltdown when the unexpected happens or when I don’t get the precise outcome that I desire. I try to keep my cool when this happens though, so I’m actually not sure if anyone could tell. I fight for perfection for these matters.

Nothing can be perfect though, unless it’s played out on my mind.

I think it’s important for anyone to have the passion and drive / determination for something. That something is what you want to hold and handle with fragile care, because of its significance to you. It could be unimportant in other people’s eyes, but that’s okay as long as it matters to you. I think these are the subjects that makes me consistently want to strive for perfection. I could be a fuck up in everything, but these are the last things I want to mess up in no particular order:

  • Penmanship (on postcards and cards to others, and I guess for me it’s my personal planner) and writing (I truly believe that writing is the best way for me to communicate with my peers, because it allows me some time to sort through my thoughts)
  • Relationships (family, friendship, romantic relationships, etc. – especially with some people)
  • Startup / business
  • Physical and mental well-being (apart from my occasional vices, which I’m more than happy to indulge)
  • Boundaries, respect, and integrity (with & for others as well as myself)

There’s a lot more, but I’ve kind of boiled the list down to my top five. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about other things, but if I were to go through process of elimination, these would be the last to remain.

I’m pretty sure I’d somehow mess up (hopefully unintentionally) the significant and the insignificant things in the future, because who doesn’t make any mistakes, right? Some of the damages will be salvageable, and some will be irreversible. I’ll experience immense regret and sorrow. My internal perfectionist would scream and yell and cast self blame easily. I know my shortcomings, and it’s easy to magnify and examine those and spiral into self-loathing. I am fully aware of my future reactions and how they will recur.

The purpose isn’t to be flawless anymore, since I know it doesn’t exist. All I can do is to perform the best I possibly can to whatever it is that I’m facing / about to face. There will be irrationality and emotions stirred into it, but these are just components of what makes me…me. I’m not going to feed myself with the way-too-motivational bullshit that’s along the lines of “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”, because, well, the destination is actually sometimes (or most of the time) more critical than the bumpy journey. Why expend the effort to reach from Point A to Point B if that’s not the goal? This isn’t dismissing the expedition towards Point B at all. It’s just straightening out priorities.

That being said, the main idea to glean from this whole post is to reach for the sky (yes, this is totally a Toy Story reference), but also to remember that even though the sky’s the limit, don’t extend your arms more than you can handle.

 

 

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