The will to do her best; an obsession with success; a desire to excel in every domain… Our society greatly values the attainment of a perfect life, combining happiness with achievement. Among women, these expectations can be a heavy burden to bear.
By Justine Aubry
Zoé, a young woman of 28, has known for a long time that she’s a perfectionist. “I can never be satisfied when things aren’t done perfectly and executed in an organized fashion,” she admits.
Anxious by nature, she puts a heavy weight on her own shoulders: “I’ve felt this pressure from a very early age. Whether it was from my teachers, my employers, my family, even from society in general.” Zoé desperately wants a brilliant career in the movies, a milieu she says is very competitive.
This young woman thinks she has to put the bar high in order for her to get the best out of herself. Sadly, she ends up seeing the challenges she sets for herself as too much to handle, and gets depressed.
Many women want to make their mark on the job market as well as in their social lives. Some run their lives at super speed, setting unattainably high goals, giving themselves absolutely no room for error. For some, this means the constant search for the perfect physique.
Dr. Frédéric Fanget, famous in France as a doctor and an author, wrote Toujours mieux ! Psychologie de perfectionnisme (Always Better! Psychology of Perfectionism). He thinks that some of these self-imposed high expectations can turn toxic. “They provoke an excess of stress, and paralyze. Paradoxically, that sort of perfectionism doesn’t encourage self-esteem. It leads us to think less of ourselves, to separate us from our real priorities and, sometimes, to miss out on life.”