“I need everything I say and do, to be perfect”.
Are you on the autistic spectrum and does this sound familiar to you? There’s something about having autism that makes me need to be perfect. Everything I say, every social interaction, In my work, every piece of DIY I undertake.
There is no in between, no middle ground. It’s either perfect or completely useless.
The trouble is that my concept of perfection is like trying to reach the horizon, you can never get there. The consequences of this are that I live in a constant state of insecurity, feeling as though everything I do is worthless and not good enough.
I am fortunate in that I do get a lot of praise for the work I do, but this has little effect on my low self esteem. I still only see flaws in anything I do.
Conversations with people and other social interactions are amongst the worst example of this state of mind. They have to be performed to a level of perfection that is impossible to achieve. I am often in a state of anxiety for days, even years afterwards, replaying conversations I’ve had, over and over again in my head.
To make things worse…
I’ve always felt the need to check and re check things that I do.
For example, I’m never sure that I have put the letter in the envelope or locked the door until I have checked over and over again and even then I can never be sure I have completed the task.
After I send an email to someone, I repeatedly check my sent box to make sure I really sent the email. Often I check 3 or 4 times, but will still not feel confident that the email was sent.
Packing my cameras to go on a film shoot creates a lot of stress for me. I have so many different things to pack. Cameras, lenses tripods, microphones, batteries etc… and I often stop the car on the way to where I’m filming, to double check that I really did put my camera in the bag. After checking I still usually feel as though I left it at home and I get anxious again.
I know that much of this sounds like OCD symptoms, and perhaps some of it is. But from observing many other autistic people I see that we have many of these traits in common.
I wish I could be one of those really cool people…
That is confident in the things they do. I wish I could understand that being “good enough” is ok, and being “perfect” is just not usually necessary.
I wish I could put a letter in an envelop and know for sure that it’s really in there.
But like most things in life, nothings perfect and we just have to do the best we can.
Thanks for reading-Steve
Autism and my need to be perfect. Click here to read again