Posted by: jperez88 | April 27, 2010

Diehard perfectionism

For me school work has always been particularly stressful. I am not, unlike many, a procrastinator who puts off assignments and papers until the last possible moment, only to hand them in moments before they are due. My situation is quite the opposite. I am the type of person who starts a paper weeks before it is due in order to revise it several times and hand in that “perfect” paper. This is my problem – I am a diehard perfectionist.

For years I have been torn between an internal drive that strives for perfection and the rational notion that perfectionism leads to anxiety and a host of unhealthy practices. Knowing that it is okay to get a B+ on an exam is quite different from actually believing it. With reading days beginning in the middle of the week and final exams quickly approaching, I find myself getting into that perfectionist mindset which will inevitably lead me to over-study for exams.

While I recognize that I indeed have a problem reconciling it is okay to get less than an A on an exam, I also wonder if Penn fosters this type of grade-centered and perfectionist mentality. I was once told that Penn is not a regular type of university, but rather its pre-graduate school. At Penn there are basically three types of students – those who are studying to go into the business world, those wishing to enter the medical profession, and those planning to continue their education in graduate school. For those of us who do not fit this paradigm, the need to perform academically is all the more important. Unsure of our future plans and career paths, it is seen as an absolute necessity to maintain a high grade point average. For those who may be perfectionists such as myself, and unsure of our future, it may be very difficult to come to the realization that it may take longer to find our niche in society.

While I personally do not fit into this pre-professional standard that Penn has become renowned for, I recognize that life is not a preplanned path and that every individual must find his or her way. And while doing so, I will try my best to recognize that it is okay not to be perfect. No one is perfect and what you plan for today can quickly change tomorrow.



  1. I agree, Justen! Timely advice, too, considering I just finished an in-class final presentation and didn’t exactly ace it.. You’re right, I think I also need to believe (not just know in theory), that it is okay not to be perfect.. Well said!

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