Some may say that perfectionism is a good thing. Even when you claim to be a perfectionist, it's another way of saying "I'm better than you." That may seem harsh. But, I've struggled with perfectionism all my life. And, when I say struggled, I mean ... I desire perfection, but that perfection never seems to work out. So, I guess you could say, I'm half-perfectionist, half-apathetic (or maybe it's just laziness).
As I've gotten older, I have been intentional about not letting that perfectionist attitude control me. It's most about letting go of control. Perfectionism comes from a mindset of having to be in control at all times ... in control of our surroundings, in control of our situations, in control of others around us, in control of ourselves. Problem is when you try to take responsibility for all these things, it can drive you crazy.
I think people who are perfectionists don't come from a bad place of trying to control everything, but actually come from a good place of wanting to make sure everything is taken care of and done the "right" way (as we each see as "right").
Perfectionism also comes from a need for approval. (Gosh, I sound like a therapist. I am not licensed, y'all ... not at all ... just my observations and experiences from my many years on the earth.) Because no one wants to be seen as not good at stuff or as a failure. Everyone wants to feel accepted and approved of. It's only human. So, I would say perfectionism definitely comes out of a fear of failure.
When you become a Christian though, this perfectionism can get in the way. You cannot control God nor what He does. And, sometimes perfectionists can try to control what God does. Impossible.
When perfectionists feel out of control, they don't know what to do with themselves. When every "t" is not crossed, or "i" is not dotted, it could seem horrifying.
But, what I've learned is that people are very forgiving and accepting, even when we're not perfect or our situations and circumstances haven't turned out the way we expected or wanted them to turn out. In fact, they may be more apt to trust you if they do see you're not perfect. For me, the person who is kind of a mess and knows they don't have it all together are the best people to be with. Then, you don't have to worry about being "perfect" yourself in their presence.
My perfectionism has gone by the wayside long ago when I came to grips with the fact that I can't be all things to all people and the things that I do will be liked by some and hated by others. None of us can be all things to all people. Some will approve; some will disapprove. That's just the way it goes. It took me years to get over this. For the longest time, I would strive to please everyone. Number 1 ... not possible. Number 2 ... exhausting. I just couldn't do it anymore. I had to surrender it all to God. And, strive for His approval, not the approval of all those other people.
The perfectionist in me hasn't disappeared altogether. It still comes back, but it doesn't control me anymore. There are honestly some areas of my life where I just don't care ... it's just ... whatever. Don't sweat the small stuff, right?
However, I did have a horrifying dream the other night where I stood in front of thousands of people in my sweaty, nasty running clothes, no make-up, hair all over the place because I couldn't find my change of clothes nor a room to change into because they were all blocked off. Hmmm ... let's just say I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and have lots on my plate. That's the worst time where the perfectionist in me starts coming out and I get a little crazy. My brain starts reeling with details and to-dos. And that's the most important time to surrender. Give it up to God.
It all again comes back to trust. Trust. ... not always my strongest suit, but I'm learning and growing. As the years go by, I trust more. God has always proven Himself faithful to me when I let Him have control. And, the best part is ... He already approves of me.
“Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 GW)