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.
Zoé admits that her lack of self-confidence is probably the main cause of her tendency to compare herself with others and to be hard on herself. Knowing that she’s being judged by her peers and that she can’t climb the corporate ladder fast enough causes her a lot of anxiety. “I’m very impatient. I can’t accept it when my work is under-estimated.”
Yet there is a glimmer of hope for women struggling with this personality trait. If efficiently channelled, perfectionism has its advantages. It can help you advance in your career, or give you confidence in your strengths.
“Perfectionism, if it’s allied with a certain capacity for imagination and self-liberation, can be an extremely important success factor. It can contribute to an expression of one’s genius,” Frédéric Fanget explains in his book, Toujours mieux ! Psychologie de perfectionnisme (Always Better! Psychology of Perfectionism).
To summarize, perfection doesn’t exist. You have to let go a little if you want to achieve your objectives!
Differences between the Sexes
To date there is no scientific research on the differences between men and women when it comes to perfectionism.
“I think there are more areas of life that put pressure on perfectionist women than on perfectionist men,” says Prof. Gordon L. Flett of York University’s Faculty of Health. Dr. Flett is a renowned expert in the study of perfectionist personalities.
“Women have to do well at work, at school, in the home, in their social relationships and in their appearance. If we take the myth of the perfect mother, for example, we soon see that society doesn’t expect the same things as it does for fathers.”
Dr. Flett, whose PhD is in psychology, adds: “My research indicates that the need for recognition from their peers is more important for women.”