At its root perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.  – Michael Law

I’ve talked a lot about my OCD but not so much about perfectionism. There are two different types of perfectionism and then there is OCD. In a sense perfectionism can hold you back just as much as having OCD. According to an article in Harvard Business Review by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill, there was a study done on 41,641 American, Canadian, and British college students on their level of perfectionism. There findings supported that between 1989 and 2016, college students’ levels of self-oriented, socially prescribed, and other-oriented perfectionism has increased by statistically significant amounts. “Recent generations of young people are more demanding of themselves, perceive that others are more demanding of them, and are more demanding of others.”

The first of the two different types of perfectionism is Adaptive/Healthy Perfectionism. This is usually what most people think when hear perfectionist. It’s the person who has high standards for everything, persists no matter what life throws at them, is goal driven, and has perfect organizational skills. This type of perfectionism that is usually portrayed in media. The “neat freak,” the person who seems to have it all together. Who has that perfect insta feed that we “strive for.”

Maladaptive/Unhealthy Perfectionism is the preoccupation with past and future mistakes and fears. They constantly have doubts that they are always doing something the incorrect way. Maladaptive Perfectionist are heavily invested in the expectations of others around them and what others would think of them. They also possess the need for control and often react negatively when their environment does not react the way they planned. For example, those who have control issues might also have disorders such as OCD or suffer from restrictive eating or other eating disorders.

OCD, is the fear that if something isn’t just right, you don’t complete your compulsions the correct way or exactly the “right way” and that in response to that your fear or intrusive thought will happen. These fears can differ from the type of compulsion or obsession. For example, the person must lock the door three times before they go to bed or the whole family will be killed and it will be because they didn’t complete their ritual.

I’ve always suffered from both OCD and Maladaptive perfectionism. It has held me back it many ways. I don’t want to start an art project if I feel like it won’t be perfect. I don’t want to go back to school scared of failing. I’ve always needed a sense of control in my life. Recently I got a bullet journal hoping to organize things and make it beautiful. I watched videos I did everything but after it, I just stared at the blank journal scared of making a mistake. So it’s sat on my table.


My goal this week is to get out of my head and stop letting my fears of perfectionist dictate my life. Starting with the little things like my bullet journal 

Are you a perfectionist? If so what kind? How has it affected your life?



Perfectionism Is Increasing, and That’s Not Good News

Published by Amelia Blackwater

I am feminist writer and poet trying to raise awareness on topics such as mental health and physical disabilities. I often write about things such as invisible illnesses and mental health/illness related topics.

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