The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Procrastinating Perfectionist

Most of the time, I’m the only thing holding me back
Ashley Broils
Sophomore Grace Rau sits in front of her unfinished work July 27 in Room 7.

“Hello future me, it’s freshman year, and I’m days away from finals! Sometime soon I plan on cutting bangs, and this summer, I have lots of plans. I hope to write some more and draw a lot. We’ll see how it goes! So, by next year, tell me what you’re doing and where you’re at. Progress, right? Bye!”

The video I took of myself nearly two months ago plays over and over again on a loop.

At least I completed one of my summer goals — I now have bangs that are always somewhere between too long and too short. But as for the others… I’ve done practically nothing. I didn’t “write some more and draw a lot.” I’ve barely picked up a pencil the entire summer.

And why’s that?

Because I’m a procrastinating perfectionist. 

So who exactly is a procrastinating perfectionist? Let me frame it like this: If a procrastinating perfectionist doesn’t think they can do something perfectly, they’d rather not do it at all. A procrastinating perfectionist will put off writing an essay until the day before it’s due — while worrying about it all week, of course — and then spend all night editing until it’s perfect.

We’ve all heard it before: “Perfect doesn’t exist.” 

But I, as a procrastinating perfectionist, have convinced myself that those universal truths of existence don’t apply to me. I’ve convinced myself that if I try hard enough, I’ll reach the unattainable ideal of “perfect.”

But I don’t.

I fall short, and I fail. I don’t do justice to the precious ideas I hold dear in my heart. I make mediocre art, and I write elementary-grade sentences.

And then, I freeze up.

I become paralyzed by the thought of not being perfect. I don’t want to fail. And if I don’t try… I can’t fail. 

So I’ll stop trying.

I’ll have masterpieces that I want to create but always tell myself, “Someday. When you’re better, when you’re older, when you’ll finally be able to do it perfectly.”

I’ve always wanted to paint something wonderful, a breathtaking landscape or a dazzling city, like the artists I admire. I have the tools — the paint, the canvas, the inspiration, the time. And yet, I freeze as it comes time to pick up the brushes. My mind replays my doubts, and suddenly I’m back to dreaming rather than doing.

Sometimes the best thing I can do when I’m stuck in that state of mind is just begin. It’s my biggest hurdle. But I find, more often than not, I’m the only thing holding me back. Once I sit down with a pen and paper, when the ink and ideas start flowing, I realize: 

Hey, what I’m making isn’t so bad. 

I won’t pretend that breaking the habits of a procrastinating perfectionist is easy.

 It’s not. 

All too often, I slip back into my tendencies and spend time avoiding my fears rather than confronting them. When that happens, I remind myself to take a step back to be able to see the situation clearly. 

Perfectionism is like wearing someone else’s glasses — it distorts reality. The lens of perfectionism doesn’t let you see you’re doing fine. Not “perfect,” but perfectly fine.

Maybe my summer didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, but life’s a work in progress. There’s always going to be room to improve. 

Not every sketch needs to be flawless. Not every first draft needs to be brilliant. Not every sentence needs to be contemplated for hours. 

It may not be perfect, but… that’s okay. 

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About the Contributor
Ashley Broils, Assistant Newspaper Photo Editor
Hi, my name is Ashley Broils and I am an Assistant Newspaper Photo Editor. I am a junior and this is my third year of photojournalism. My job is to help the newspaper photo editors with checking captions of photos and picking photos for the newspaper. When taking photos, I really enjoy being close to the action. I have two brothers, Justin and Alex, who are both in middle school. I also have a dog named Anna who is one year old and loves to play fetch with me. My favorite destination is Puerto Rico. I vacationed there this summer.

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