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Why I've Become a Perfectionist as a Person With a Disability

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I consider myself to be a perfectionist. Of course, this doesn’t mean I am a perfect person. I’m far from it. However, I do tend to strive for perfection in every aspect of my life, especially when it comes to my academic career.

My parents instilled the idea in me that I should always put my best effort into whatever I choose to pursue. However, my desire for perfection mostly stems from a deep longing to prove society wrong.

Society in general has a notion that people with disabilities (especially those that are visibly apparent) lack intellect and have nothing of value to contribute to this world. This misconception enrages me to my very core and it’s something I have spent my life trying to disprove. In my efforts to demonstrate that having a physical disability doesn’t make me incapable of achieving things, I sometimes get carried away. I pour myself completely into whatever task is at hand, schoolwork or otherwise. This can be a good thing, but it can also lead to a recurrent cycle of self-damaging tendencies.

I’m very critical of myself. I beat myself up more than necessary when I make the simplest of mistakes, or if I feel I should be doing better. I have brought myself to tears for not meeting the high expectations I have in place for myself (which are unrealistic most of the time). I strive for this unattainable perfection because I want to be the complete opposite of the stereotypical idea of a disabled person. I want people to see through my life that a pesky disability like cerebral palsy can’t stop me from living out my dreams and becoming a productive member of society. But I need to remember that I can still achieve this goal without being perfect. No one fits the definition of perfection.

For those who also struggle with this, don’t forget to be proud of yourself when you accomplish things, even if in the process nothing comes together perfectly. Perfection isn’t needed to combat stereotypes.

Getty image by Gustavo Frazzo.

Originally published: May 14, 2019
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