I read this post today over at A Sexual Being. In a nutshell Kayla asks her fellow submissives if they, too, are perfectionists. She also speaks of how she was raised, with pressure from her father to be perfect, and questions if this is a contributing factor.
All of this started me thinking about how I live and my standards for myself. I was not raised like Kayla. In my family, I was largely ignored while those around me were busy with their own lives. My performance mattered little to anyone as long as I did nothing that required punitive action. I almost never did. I had seen my brothers punished often and wanted no part of it.
When I attended college as an adult, far later than most, my professors loved me. They loved me for the same reason most of the students groaned when they saw me walk in the classroom door on the first day of classes – I am an over achiever. I raised the bar uncomfortably high for the majority of the students. By being myself, I pushed the entire class to do more, to do quality work instead of just turning in something for a barely passing grade.
It is who I am. I cannot be happy with doing less. I must do everything as perfectly as I possibly can. I have unreasonable levels of stress if there are unknown factors that may cause me to fail at anything. If there are too many factors at play, I will procrastinate due to fear of failure.
This effects all areas of my life. Someone over at Kayla’s blog commented that Kayla must be unhappy most of the time because of her standards. I am self-pressured to excel at everything. It disturbs my core when I’m not perfect. It grates on me. It keeps me awake. And this is just when I’m not perfect not when I flat-out fail.
When I fail, I am devastated for days, if not weeks, depending on the magnitude of the failure and who else might have witnessed or been effected by it. I cannot shake it off as most can. I take all failures/mistakes/negative events personally. I literally lose sleep over what occurred. I analyze to death. I perseverate on what went wrong. On what I should do differently the next time. If, after extensive examination, I cannot see anything I did that might be done differently, I look for ways to never put myself in that situation again. If I repeat the same mistake, each recurrence deepens my personal shame and undermines my self-esteem exponentially. What may be a small pebble on someone else’s path can derail me for weeks. The resulting shame stays fresh for months, at least.
Kayla says, in her comments, that she is happy most of the time. I am as well. I am happy because this is not new. I have stressed over my performance, in varying degrees, all of my adult life. I am like the boiling frog. I have grown used to it. I don’t know how my system would react if I was suddenly able to say “Oh, the heck with it. This is good enough.” I cannot imagine that kind of freedom.
Kayla, in answer to your question, I cannot speak for all s-types. I can only speak from my experience. I’m right there with you, hoping I don’t drop any of the balls I’m juggling or, god forbid, all of them.