The New Perfectionism

Ditching perfectionism is very much en vogue right now. Lots of folks talking about how perfectionism is toxic; it damages our relationships, prevents true intimacy and friendship, and wrecks us internally.

Certainly perfectionism is harmful and should be talked about with great alacrity and fervor. It does harm us; yet, I wonder if we’re not creating a new, shinier perfectionism, one that is really self depredation masked as a kind of laissez faire approach to appearance. This new version is really good at talking about how we’ve given up on perfectionism! Life is so much freer and simpler! You know, the kind of #nofilter non-sense.

This new perfectionism has maybe given up on some of the facade but it’s equally as internally domineering and likely just as damaging. We’ve traded looking put together for aiming to look like we don’t care all that much if we are or not. Of course, we put just as much time into that kind of thinking as we did in perfectionism 1.0.

I think one of the roots of this is our nascent belief that we don’t really belong anywhere. There’s a lot of language for this. We’ve lost our sense of tribe. We’d like a place at the table. Perfectionism, then, is just our perception of cultural norms and requirements that we believe will restore for us a sense of belonging.

One of the beautiful things about family life and neighborliness and making a house a home is that you’ve got a baked in stage to get right at the root of all this stuff we deal with as a culture. Recognizing how each of us shares the same desire for belonging should create a connection in which we begin to be that for one another.

And surely that would deal quite a death blow to perfectionism, old and new.

Jerry Hodge