(This content is also available at https://youtu.be/apjGYcW-QrE)
By: Sarah Nyhan
I’m not sure when or how it started. But as far back as I can remember, things had to be perfect. I was that kid who would spend hours just sorting through my toys and grouping them together and lining then up in perfect lines. I was that kid who colored inside all the lines.
When I grew older it looked more like organizing and reorganizing everything. My life might be a mess, but dangit my spice cabinet will be organized! I wish I could say it’s more a joke than truth.
So I went back to college. I would sometimes spend eight hours studying for an exam. To be honest, I was unhappy if I received anything less than a 100 on a test, assignment, etc. An ‘A’ was tolerable, but I would chastise myself for not studying or working harder for the 100.
I worked my tail off to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. To prove to everyone that I was as intelligent and capable as I always felt I could be. And then? My employer went out of business the day after I graduated! I spent the next year and a half being rejected from hundreds of jobs I applied for. Even jobs I held before. Even jobs like being a receptionist.
I went from giving the student speech at the Distinguished Graduates Ceremony to delivering food for cash so I could eat each day. There was a lot I was learning through all of that, but whew – talk about an ego whooping! Nobody gave a dang about my 4.0 GPA!!
If you asked me whether I thought I was better than some others because I had a 4.0 GPA and could manage to perfectly organize my spice rack and other ridiculous things like that, I would have intellectually known to say no. But looking back I can see that I actually FELT I was better than some people because of how well I could do certain things.
That attitude makes us intolerable people to be friends with, work with, and be around. But besides that, it leads to paralyzing self-hatred. It really stifles all meaningful growth. Because to us, perfection is ok, anything less is failure, and breaking the barriers to set a new bar is real greatness.
You know what else it is? Insufferable!!! Never-ending despair and depression. Not to mention pathalogically self-centered and shamefully ungrateful. Merciless.