“measuring tape on mannequin” by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Perfectionism: How we stunt ourselves trying to save face

Mark Palfreeman
2 min readSep 19, 2018


I used to think being a perfectionist was fine and good.

It’s just healthy self-scrutiny. We’re supposed to analyze and hold ourselves to a high standard, right? To strive to be our best? Not anymore. Not once I realized what’s really happening.

I need to be reminded often of a simple fact: people can’t ever be perfect; we’re inherently flawed. We can try all we want, but everyone has their issues: anger, cowardice, selfishness, lack of empathy, avoidance, the list goes on. Or maybe it’s just lacking abilities that others have—there will always be someone better than us.

Perfectionism says we can’t put any of our selves or work on display until it’s all just right. For me, this looks like questioning everything, doubting myself, and quitting half-way. Specifically, I hesitate every time I’m about to submit a code review for my coworkers to look at. Or I decide I’m not qualified enough to speak at a local tech meetup or write a new post (like this one!).

Since we can’t achieve “just right”, because there will always be something to improve, perfectionism is really about keeping up a façade. While claiming perfection, we’re really trying hard to hide our imperfections. It’s our shield to avoid the discomfort from doing anything new, daring, or vulnerable.