life

Dealing with Perfectionism: Starting to Run Again

The other day, my boyfriend Dan asked me to go for a run with him. I used to be an avid runner; the high point of my running career was running my first and only half marathon in August, 2012. After the half-marathon, I was completely burnt out on running, so I quit.

Me after my first and only half marathon. I was so happy, and so completely over running.

Me after my first and only half marathon. I was so happy, and so completely over running.

Even though I hadn’t done any serious running in nearly 2 years, I agreed to go for a jog with Dan. As I was lacing up my shoes, I was nervous. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “this is going to be a disaster” over and over again. I knew I would be slow, and I was ashamed of my poor running ability.

Despite the whirlwind of negative thoughts in my mind, we started jogging down my road. After about a block, Dan picked up the pace and told me to run faster. I stopped running, and stared at him for 10 seconds before yelling, “I suck at running. If you want to run fast, run by yourself!” Then, I turned around and walked home. Dan chased after me and apologized. He explained that he thought I would want him to push me to run faster, and he insisted that we try again. We ended up doing a 2.5 mile run with some interspersed walking. I was slow, yes, but the run was far from the disaster I anticipated. It felt freeing, and it was a fun way to spend time together.

I didn’t realize until after the run how irrationally upset I was at picking up the pace. I was so insecure about my running ability that I felt personally attacked by his urging me to run faster. If I hadn’t been emotionally tied up in my running abilities, or lack thereof, I could have just said that I needed to slow things down. Instead, I felt diminished, and I lashed out because of it.

My emotional reaction to being urged to run faster got me thinking about my tendency towards perfectionism. It’s a trait that has helped me get to medical school, and it is a good quality to have in a future doctor. However, because of my perfectionism, I don’t feel the sense of accomplishment or pride in my abilities that I should. Instead of taking pride in the fact that I was challenging myself to a 2.5 mile run, I was just focusing on the fact that right now in this moment I am not “good” at running.

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Perfectionism has been described as “the tyranny of shoulds” [1]. Researchers who study perfectionism suggest that perfectionism leads to a chronic sense of failure, indecisiveness, procrastination, and shame [2, 3]. Research also suggests that perfectionism can be divided into categories of “positive” and “negative” [4]. People with positive perfectionism set high standards, and feel satisfied when the standards have been achieved. However, negative perfectionism is neurotic, self-defeating, and dysfunctional. Furthermore, negative perfectionism can be associated with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental disorders [5].

Because of the negative impact perfectionism can have in our lives, I am challenging you and myself to become more self-aware of how our perfectionism affects us. Do you feel like you need to have the perfect house before you can invite friends over? Have you passed on challenging work opportunities because you’re afraid of failing? If you think you have perfectionistic tendencies, journal about your self-imposed standards and critical thoughts, then analyze your journal entries as an outside observer. Notice how perfectionism is negatively impacting your life, without criticism, and brainstorm how you can make positive changes. Go out without makeup on. Go for a jog even if your pace is extremely slow. Leave dishes in the sink. Maybe instead of focusing on being great at things, we should just focus on having fun with whatever we’re doing. Being great might just happen without us even realizing it.

If you believe perfectionism is significantly impacting your life, please contact a healthcare professional. For more information on perfectionism and how you can challenge your perfectionism, check out “Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control.”

 

References:
1. Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth: The struggle toward self-realization. New York: Norton.

2. Burns, D. D. (1980, November). The perfectionist’s script for self-defeat.Psychology Today, pp. 34–51.

3. Pacht, A. R. (1984). Reflections on perfection.American Psychologist, 39, 386–390.

4. Slade, P. D., & Owens, R. G. (1998). A dual process model of perfectionism based on reinforcement theory. Behavior modification22(3), 372-390.

5. Shafran, Roz, and Warren Mansell. “Perfectionism and psychopathology: A review of research and treatment.” Clinical Psychology Review 21.6 (2001): 879-906.

 

**Note: I originally published this article on The Healthy Hoot.

Clothes Mentor Haul!

Hey guys,

I hope you enjoy the video I made showing off all the great deal I got at Clothes Mentor. In the video I mistakenly said they carry women’s sizes 0-16…NOT TRUE. They carry actually carry women’s sizes 0-26 AND they have maternity clothes as well! Beneath the video, I’ve posted photos and links to similar items at the retail price, so you can see what a great deal Clothes Mentor actually is!

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.12.51 PMBanana Republic White Silk V-Neck Top: $69.50

Clothes Mentor Price: $7-$9

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.13.07 PMJ. Crew Embroidered Gauze Skirt: $69.50

Clothes Mentor Price: $12

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Paige Denim Jimmy Jimmy Crop: $199

Clothes Mentor Price: $17.50

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BDG Twig Mid-Rise Jean: $58

Clothes Mentor Price: $8

So, as you can see, Clothes Mentor has a lot of great deals. All of the opinions in this article are my own; Clothes Mentor did not ask or pay me to do this review. So, what’s your favorite second hand store!?

XOXO,
Jamie

 

 

I Hate Medical School

Hello everyone.

I’ve had several blogs and a website, all of which I’ve quit because I felt like I didn’t have the time to give them 100%, and they became much more of a chore than a hobby. But, here I am again, blogging.

For the past month I’ve felt really pretty blah. Medical school is obviously a huge drain on all aspects of my life- physically, mentally, emotionally, creatively. At the end of every day, I feel like I am missing something. I feel like there is something fundamental missing from my life. I feel unfulfilled

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I spent a day thinking about why I feel so unfulfilled and what is missing from my life and I came up with a few things:

1: I am entirely too hard on myself. I have never been okay with mediocracy in any aspect of my life. Medical students constantly put up the facade that they know more than they actually do. Because of the perfection I demand from myself and the fact that everyone else seems to be perfectly happy with their work-load and knowledge, I spend my days feeling extremely incompetent. Basically, I am in full on panic mode all day, trying to cram as much information into my brain as possible without ever stopping to realize that this is my life. Yes, I am a medical student, so maybe my life is about 1/10th of that of any other human being, but it should still exist.

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2: My grades are fantastic, but they are coming at the cost of balance in every other aspect of by life. I have always been the type of person to prioritize by grades over pretty much everything else in my life. In high school, I didn’t even notice this because the information load and difficulty of the work was so low that being the top student in all my classes came without much effort. In college, I was no longer the best student at school; I was just another hard-working fish in a giant ocean full of lots of other hard-working fishes…and some of those other fishes were brilliant. I felt inadequate. It was in college that I first realized how much I defined myself by my grades (and other external factors- body shape, attractiveness, etc.). I realize that grades are so superficial and mean basically nothing, but the irrational part of me likes the measurement and the cheap thrill of being “above average.”

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One way I hope to regain some balance in my life is by using this blog as a creative and emotional outlet. I also hope this blog can inspire me to have new experiences and help me deal with the stress of medical school.

Medical School.

I hate it.

Hate is a strong word you say?

Well, I don’t take it back.

I hate medical school. I hate the way it has made me feel anxious. I hate the way it has put pressure on my relationships. I hate the way I feel dumb every day because of how much I don’t know. But, there is nothing else I actually could see myself doing with my life. I want to be a doctor. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn medicine. But, still, I hate medical school.

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This blog will be real. In case you can’t already tell from this post alone, I am not going to sugar-coat my thoughts (Although I did omit a Slyvia Plath quote at the last minute). Some of my posts might be ramblings. There might be typos. I might not write for a month. I might quit altogether. This blog is mine, for me, for however long and whenever I need it. And that, is a wonderful thing.

xoxo,

Jamie