OPINION: The painful life of a procrastinating perfectionist

Good enough can still be adequate

Upon sitting down to write this, I can’t take my eyes off of the twelve tabs across the top of my computer screen. I can feel their judgement sinking into my soul. Why don’t I revise my essay for English one last time? After all, it’s due next period. Or maybe I should just add a couple more pictures to my anatomy lab. My grade will probably drop a whole 10% if I don’t, right?
My thought process couldn’t be further from the truth.
I have always been a perfectionist, but now I’ve learned that there is a time and a place. Initially, however, it worked out well. In elementary school I didn’t have many assignments, so I could spend ample time on all of them without affecting my mental wellbeing.
Middle school was a different story. The workload got heavier, and I got more invested. To most parents and teachers, being so invested was a positive. But sooner than later, I was drowning in schoolwork.
Then, perfectionism led to procrastination. The idea of starting an assignment that had to be perfect was so daunting that I stopped starting them altogether. However, I cared too much about my grades, so I couldn’t bear to have missing assignments. This resulted in waiting until the night before due dates to begin working.
Unfortunately, I was still a perfectionist, so I still had to spend as much time as possible making everything exactly correct, but now I only had one night to do so.
Simply put, it was self sabotage.
Obviously, this method quickly caught up with me. I pushed myself to stay up late many nights, and by the time I was in high school, I couldn’t afford to lose that valuable sleep.
I knew my habits were unrealistic, but the perfectionist in me had been battling the procrastinator for years, and the rational part of me decided it was time for them to reach a compromise.
I began to actively force myself to be okay with submitting work that was adequate rather than perfect. Of course, more important work took precedence and was permitted to still be perfect, but it had to be kept within reason.
I am still actively working to change my mindset, because my perfectionism doesn’t simply go away if I tell it to. It is rooted in my brain. But I have to remind myself that sometimes it is okay to be satisfied with an imperfect finished product.
In the moment, it seems like a single assignment will have a drastic impact on the future. In reality, however, assignments will come and go and prioritizing the most important ones in the current circumstances is crucial to living a less stressful life.