The Burden of Perfectionism

My midterm today did not go as well as I had hoped. There were three main questions. The first two took me five minutes; I could do them without thinking. I spent forty-five minutes on the last question, and I still couldn’t figure out the answer.

I wasn’t the only person stumped by the question. No one finished early. The entire class was still sitting when time was called. But whether my classmates got the question or not is irrelevant to how I’m feeling right now.

I am definitely a perfectionist when it comes to my schoolwork. I don’t know when I started having such high standards for myself. I certainly didn’t have these standards during graduate school for math (not to this extent at least). I’m annoyed and disappointed that I wasn’t able to figure out the exam problem. Considering my background and my level of understanding of the material, I expected far more from myself.

The most frustrating thing about this exam is that my score won’t separate me from anyone else in the class. It won’t show that I can explain everything in the lecture notes to other students. It won’t show that I correct the TA at least once per discussion section.

It doesn’t help that everyone else has such high expectations of me. I’ve become the standard answer upon which many of my classmates check their homework. They assume I’ll get a perfect on every exam. It makes any mistake I make stand out that much more.

The stress from this term is driving me crazy.

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One Response to “The Burden of Perfectionism”

  1. normalboy Says:

    Please pardon my lack of decent writing in recent posts. It’s difficult to write when I’m stressed.

    It’s a good thing I’m not a perfectionist in my writing, or else I would never post anything…


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