First of all, there isn’t enough room to house all the women that are perpetually trapped inside the Perfectionism Prison. This prison may not have metal bars and armed guards keeping watch, but it’s powerful enough to keep us locked inside our own destructive thoughts and behaviors.
Second of all, we know better. Intellectually, we know that perfection doesn’t exist, but emotionally we still strive for it. We know that super-models need a glam squad and endless air-brushing to appear flawless in magazines, yet we spend millions of dollars on cosmetic surgery each year to achieve that perfect look.
This is not a new phenomenon. The quest for perfection existed back in the Stone Age when cavewomen agonized over the cave décor and scoured the plains to find a recipe for the perfect mammoth burgers. Then in the 1950s, women worried about being the perfect homemaker, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, and the perfect hostess.
Today, we still strive for perfection in all those areas, but we’ve added “perfect professional” to the list. To make it even worse, we need to be the perfect “working mother” with a perfect work-life mix. We also need to make the perfect decision about when to work, how much to work, and where to work while still being a perfect mother, wife, and manager of the household. After we are perfectly prepared, we want to pursue the perfect professional opportunity that will guarantee the perfect outcome and lead to the perfect career path.
When evaluating a job description, women believe they need to have nearly 100% of the requirements and qualifications in order to apply for the position. In stark contrast, men only need 60%. Women want a perfect match before moving forward. Otherwise, they will hyper-focus on the one skill they don’t have, or don’t have enough of, and convince themselves they’re completely under-qualified and no hiring manager on earth would ever consider them for an interview. Just for the record, a 100% match with any job description is like walking on the moon…it’s possible, but very few people actually experience it.
Women become crippled with self-doubt and insecurities to the point where it sabotages their careers and overall decision-making. By nature, women are low risk-takers and are paralyzed by the thought of looking stupid, silly, or incompetent…of appearing imperfect. The Perfectionism Prison is a self-imposed trap, a limiting mindset, and one of the fastest ways women kill their careers.
Women adopt an extreme black or white, all or nothing, perfection or failure, type of attitude that leads to very destructive self-sabotaging behavior. If the opportunity isn’t perfect, if the circumstances aren’t perfect, or if the confidence level isn’t perfect, women will hold themselves back or take themselves out of the running completely.
It’s time to realize that perfection is a façade. None of us are perfect nor do we really want to be. It’s the flaws and imperfections that make us unique and interesting. Liberate yourself from this prison once and for all and Woman UP!