(Photo: Twenty20/openforwinter)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the type of person who wants everything to be perfect. And I know, there’s no such thing as perfect. but whatever. This makes life incredibly frustrating for someone who strives for perfection on a daily basis.

I like to say that I’m overly organized and always leading the pack. That’s probably because I won’t let anyone else lead the pack. In my mind, I always have to be the one who makes the decisions because to me, I’m the one who knows best. Decision making is one of my favorite things to do. Being someone who wants to control every aspect of her life to strive for it to be as perfect as possible, it’s all a matter of decision making and planning.

I think it all started with my love for school. Ever since I was young, I was the girl who always had her planner on her even if she didn’t have anything to write in it. I had a to-do list for every day of the week. I was the one you came to when you wanted to know what homework was due next week. I was always the one who lead the groups for projects. This all made me feel very important. Even after graduating high school, I loved the idea of having things planned out. Especially when you’re a freshman in college and have no idea where your life is headed. I tried to make my best four-year plan and stick to it to a T. Needless to say, things didn’t pan out the way I had planned.

Whenever things don’t go the way I plan them, this is when my anxiety starts to take over. I start to internally freak out and instantly my mind is racing for a way to get back onto my plan. I’ve come to realize that it can make it really difficult for people to enjoy being around me. Throughout all the years that I’ve been this control-freak striving for perfection, I didn’t really realize that it was an issue for others (and for my mental and physical health) until I got into my current relationship.

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We moved in together in August of 2015, but instead of getting a separate place together, he moved into my apartment. I loved the idea of being surrounded by him all the time, but got nervous because in all honesty, I’ve gone through way too many roommates in my time. I was afraid that, because of my slightly obsessive personality, he may stray away. After he moved his things in, every day I started to find little things that would drive me nuts inside. Leaving a clothing tag on the dresser, an empty cup on the kitchen table, a razor on the bathroom sink—it all drove me into a mad cleaning frenzy whenever I’d see it.

I’d start by throwing away the tag on the dresser, then I’d notice that my dog chewed up a toy and there was fur by the trash. I’d vacuum it then only to realize the vacuum hadn’t been emptied in weeks. It would then turn into an entire day of me inspecting every inch of the house and making sure it was “perfect”. Luckily, I have a great guy who has learned to deal with my Type A personality.

But in my mind, it made sense for me to be this type of person. I have a full-time job, own a photography business, and am a freelance writer for multiple outlets. I needed to have a serious organizational system in my life to make sure things were getting completed when they were supposed to, which trickled down to even the smallest things. I needed to be controlling everything to make sure that I was on the path I had laid out for myself, even if that meant spending the extra hour or two cleaning or rearranging.

Because of this need for controlling everything, I’ve made my life pretty boring to avoid that anxiety. Even on my days off, I usually have a plan for what I’ll be doing by the hour. I have a really hard time just spending the day lounging around and taking things minute by minute, hour by hour because I need to know what I’m doing for the day or else my mind simply cannot rest. It’s honestly mentally exhausting. My mind simply never is allowed to take a break. This personality has taken a toll on many relationships that I’ve had as well whether it be with a boyfriend or friends. I’ve realized that I’m simply no fun to be around. I don’t drink (because being so out of it that I can’t control myself would never happen). I don’t smoke. I hate going to bars because I just get to watch everyone else be drunk and I sit and wonder why they enjoy it. I can’t remember the last time someone has invited me out to do something other than just grab lunch.

With all that said, my obsessive personality has also done a great job at making me exhausted. Maybe it’s me taking on too many things at once, but this was all part of the plan, right? It had to be okay in the end. I can’t even concentrate on the simple things in life like enjoying a nice dinner or going bowling with my friends because I’m so worried about either getting home to finish a piece I have due in the morning or going to bed early so I’m getting exactly eight hours of sleep.

Whenever I’ve spoken to people about the fact that I hate being a perfectionist, they tend to laugh it off like I’m complaining about a problem that shouldn’t really be a problem. They’ll most likely come back with “how could you hate it? You’re always so organized!” While, yes, it’s true that organization is a good skill to possess, it also takes a lot of mental and physical work.

It’s taken me years to finally realize that this isn’t okay. I’ve made it my goal to try my best to take a step back and come to terms with the fact that I need to make time for the unexpected things to happen in my life. I need to take chances and go out with friends. I need to have fun and let go. It might sound like the easiest thing to do, but I’ve got a whole road of change ahead of me.