Introvert vs. perfectionism - how to get active


I remember being a child, I imagined adulthood as being an ideal person. Acting impeccably, always prepared, not taking unnecessary risk, free from errors, rational, responsible. Ah, how much this children's theory has been verified by time! Actually, I should say toppled, knocked down, mixed with mud and then trampled on, in case someone ever wanted to help her get up. Because reality turned out to be exactly the opposite, and my vision of adult life evolved from a perfect man to someone making a lot of mistakes, but still having enough courage and self-understanding to go on.

Who exactly is an adult? I will not go into official definitions and counting calendar pages, but I will share with you what this means for me. Well, an adult man can take care of himself. He knows his needs, knows how to provide himself with a flat, food, clothes and everything he needs to live, not forgetting about emotional needs. And even if it doesn't work out well, at least he tries. He keeps going forward, and if the fall happens he gets up, dusts off and goes on instead of crying in the sandbox waiting for someone to pay attention to him. He takes responsibility for his life and his behavior, he notices other people and he doesn't parasitize on them. In other words, the concept of emotional intelligence is not completely foreign to him.

There is a lot of activity and effort in the above definition. We will not find perfectionism there though, which, as we will explain, is a direct enemy of action. However, it so happens that in us introverts there is usually a very strong tendency towards being perfect, flawless, the best. This is usually due to the deeply developed ability to self-reflect and quickly notice what else we could improve. Many of us also have low self-esteem, which further intensifies the constant need to be better, because comparing ourselves with others in our own eyes usually ends up bad. Therefore, before we do anything, we want to make sure that we are suitable for it, that we did our homework and that we took care of every detail. We are waiting for a good moment, until we correct all shortcomings, until we eliminate the risk of failure, until we are the best.

Extrovert attitude

Meanwhile ... what is a typical extrovert doing at the time? He works! Tries, even though he doesn't always feel ready for it. Because the moment of full readiness usually never comes. Extroverts are statistically more self-confident, proactive, see value in what they do, although perhaps others are doing it better. They understand that life is not about being the best, but about being good enough. And this usually requires much less than we think. Most often the key to success is ... the first step. And mistakes. A lot of mistakes, preferably a whole bunch, because it is widely known that we learn the most from them. Thinking about perfect performance we will achieve little, but awkwardly moving forward with each move we will gain practice and experience. Personally, I regret the fact that every success story we see in the media is not accompanied by a leaflet with a list of side effects that appeared along the way. We only see the end result, and we forget that behind every beautiful story there is a lot of hardships and sacrifices.

And no, I do not want to generalize here, saying that all introverts are poor perfectionists and more extroverted people are doomed to success. Nor that perfectionism is bad to the bone and you can't find positive aspects in it (because jobs that seek details-oriented people deny this). Or that from now on we are to act blindly and do ill-considered things. I rather refer to the situation when we feel that we are stuck in a place. When sitting on the sofa we wonder how it happens that people around us are doing so many interesting things, and our everyday life looks exactly the same (uninteresting) for years. And that we do not know what to do next, in which direction to go and where to look for motivation to act. Well, for the most part, the answer to this question is simple, but it's not what we want to hear. It sounds: get up from the couch. Do anything. You don't have to know what your final goal is, but the first step will lead you to the next, and this one to the next and there is a good chance that eventually you will reach somewhere.

Where to get motivation from?

If as an introvert you have a problem finding energy and a desire to do something, you need to know one thing: motivation in practice most often results from action, and not vice versa. Each action brings another one, with time we find more and more strength and inspiration, we become more confident. We introverts rarely go ahead unless we have an accurate map in hand. We like to know what will happen tomorrow, have everything planned, be ready for everything. However, the reality does not look like this, and the expectation that it will be so (because I want!) is far from maturity. I guess we all had an excellent example of this recent pandemic, when suddenly it turned out that our plans to date have little significance. (More about taming the unknown here: Being aware of the above, it is sometimes good to find the courage to do something a bit more spontaneous. Especially since people who like to spend time alone prefer internal motivation much more, therefore hints and encouragement from other people may prove to be ineffective.

Treat everything a bit less seriously

I have convinced myself many times that my own perfectionism not only did not contribute much to the quality of my life, but even significantly hindered it. I will give here an example of writing articles for a blog, to which until recently I was very reluctant. In spite of many ideas in my head, I usually devoted many hours to writing a short article, correcting it many times and making sure that everything I have in it is 100% correct. Or that what I wrote today will still be relevant to me tomorrow and I won't have to be ashamed of it. It was only when I realized that I would never have such a guarantee and that everything would become outdated over time, I learned to approach it with greater distance. I already know that I have the right to write what I know from my level of consciousness today, even though many people have more knowledge than I do about it, and that I could do some things better. I know that there is probably no topic on which someone has not written before and that I will never be completely original. I also know that many readers will disagree with me and that's ok too! Nevertheless, I still decide to write because I believe that there will be a group of recipients for whom it will have value. And besides, I like doing it.

Determination to act

Someone could now accuse me that such an attitude is not conducive to working on myself, self-improvement, prevents the creation of the highest quality things. I would ask, however, whether waiting for the perfect moment and abandoning action favors self-improvement. If I would still keep spending such long hours writing just a few words, I would probably get so discouraged that I would stop doing it completely. Instead, I still create something imperfect every time, but something new every time. And I keep learning and drawing conclusions, hoping that what I will create tomorrow will be at least a little less imperfect than what I created yesterday. And I already know how other bloggers, whose websites reach popularity records do it - they just don't give up. While others are worrying about creating another black script in their mind, they are writing another text.

Therefore, the next time you are stalled again, think about whether you get trapped by your little but insidious friend perfectionism. The trick is not to spend your whole life in the training room chasing perfection without ever going on stage. No school will make us ready for anything and perfectly confident in doing what we secretly dream about. Real life, however, begins when, after all, we start trying. And as a result, sooner or later we reach for what has been ever beyond our perfect imagination.

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