Perfectionism and the Danger of Thinking

Today I had an altercation with a friend (I even hesitate to put the label “altercation” on it because he probably doesn’t even realize what happened and has forgotten all about it.  That’s how sensitive I am.)  I couldn’t believe how upset and angry at myself I was.  And this is after proper medication and counseling.  There are some parts about myself that aren’t symptomatic of a particular disorder, they’re just … who I am.

And part of the joy of being me is being terrified of being wrong.

hate being wrong, no matter what I am wrong about.  Until I got to senior year of high school I was never wrong about academics.  I aced every test and project and people came to view me as sort of a walking encyclopedia – not a person.  I didn’t have very many friends in middle and high school, and when my only close friend transferred to a different high school I was devastated.  So all I really had, for a long time, was my academic success, and my propensity for rightness.

Now that I’m in college there are a lot of things I am wrong about.  Academically and socially speaking.  My fear of imperfection and wrongness has started to seep into things like the clothes I wear and the food I eat.  I am very picky about the appearance and texture of my food and will prefer going hungry over eating food that is not to my standards.  I hand-wash my clothes (the ones that need hand-washing) and my dishes in water that is so hot it scalds the polish off my nails.  

A lot of the problems I face socially stem from the fact that I try so very hard to make people like me, and so it hurts proportionally more when people don’t, or when, in my overzealousness, I overstep my boundaries.  I tend to latch on to people (see the person I mentioned in my first paragraph) and place much more value on their companionship and opinions than I probably should.  Last year I did this to a whole group of freshmen and they will probably never realize how much I wanted to be friends with them, and how sad I was when I realized they didn’t want to be friends with me, because they really don’t care.

Sometimes I feel like I have been lied to and taken advantage of multiple times.  I try very hard to believe in the inherent goodness of people, and I feel like certain types of people can sense that and will tell me things like “But I really do love you!” or “I think you’re really pretty!” or “You’re my best friend!” just to get me on their side.  It’s gotten to the point where I am not sure who or what to believe anymore.  Which is scary, because I used to pride myself on my ability to trust, but the passing years make it harder and harder to trust people, especially those I do not already know.

One of the most difficult situations of all for me is when I am wrong and then someone gets mad at me for being wrong.  I tend to associate those two things, so when I am wrong I expect someone to get mad at me, and when someone is angry (not necessarily at me, even) I figure it must be because I did something wrong.  I used to have full-blown panic attacks and flashbacks whenever I sensed negativity from other people.  These days I just feel like crying (it has gotten much harder for me to actually cry since I switched medicines.)

The way I currently deal with all of this is to shut down externally.  I can generally control my outward expression so that no one knows how upset I am, and I take a certain pride in being able to do this, to still be polite and collected.

I would like, one day, to be able to fully express myself again.  I wish I could find other, similar people, who overthink things and write bad poetry and will give me hugs whenever I need them.  But for that I will have to wait.

And waiting, thank goodness, is one thing I am really, really good at.