McKenzie: Dealing With ‘Perfectionist Gridlock’

In my last meeting with Professor McNary-Zak, I narrated my annoyances with my classes through my inability to meet every assignment, task, or project to my best level. After a bad critique in the classroom and feeling unable to keep up, she later sent me Stanford’s “Perfectionist Gridlock | Eight Ways To Get Unstuck” to me and my housemates experiencing similar stresses in school and our lives. I would say it is a must-read for my fellow perfectionists, or simply anyone weary of the future.

To summarize, perfectionist gridlock is the feeling of being stuck when you are not doing something to your own expectation. Perfectionism is in itself a challenge, it is heavy, it makes you feel immobile, it ties you down, and it lowers your feelings of self-worth when it things aren’t going as planned. Gross.

What I found shocking by the article was how it resonates with my artist’s statement and intentions within my painting practice. (I’ve added a picture for reference). The body is contorted, wrapping around physical weights of experiences and observations that become a singular mess of disillusionment — well, that’s just the beginning. I’m a little off-track, but just to confirm, McKenzie struggles with perfectionism.

The Ruka, being a household of five women committed in our own ways, strives to be the best in what we each do individually. Whether that be baking, art, writing, networking, organizing, general schoolwork and whatever we take up, individually we try very hard to keep up with the expectations we set of ourselves — while of course taking care of the planet, saving the world from evils, and finding post-graduate plans. Phew!

Our individual setbacks thus become deeply personal. We all have to understand who we are individually, but also acknowledge how the Ruka can provide us with what we need to feel comforted. Abbie and I have figured out this past week that cheese grits can help solve a lot of problems.

What’s great is that my life outside the Ruka seems to stop for the amount of time we are together. It is like someone has put a pause on my haunting perfectionist gridlock (it’s fantastic). This past week, our house pulled off an amazing dinner for President Troutt and Mrs. Troutt. It was an awesome privilege to be hostesses to a fabulous couple. After our own long days, we ended with our chins raised, a great group hug, and smiles all around. I was SO PROUD of us. That individual joy was enough to end a week on a Wednesday. 

All in all (and not to be too cheesy), the Ruka has been a great place to live, grow, and love one another. I am finding more similarities I share with the other Rukettes than I would have ever thought before joining the Ruka. In my own day to day gridlock, I know that going home my failures will be comforted, my successes will be met with joy. Better call Stanford because the Ruka was the best ‘step to get unstuck.’.


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