I went to an event last week where they handed out candy canes with words attached to them. The words, individual to each person, served as the night's conversation topic. My word was perfectionism. My first reaction was just that I was no longer a perfectionist. Too easy.
Once upon a time, I was a perfectionist. Or, better stated, I was someone who strove to be perfect. I hadn't actually perfected perfectionism.
If I couldn't be perfect, I could try to make everything I did perfect. For example, I worked as a magazine editor. I developed a high set of production standards and a microscopic eye for detail. If there was an error, whether typo, scratched film, misaligned color plate, or some other ant's-eye-view thing, I'd find it. Would anyone else notice? Maybe 1 in 500 people. Would that person care? Maybe a 1 in 500 chance. But it gave me a sense of control where life didn't allow it. It gave me something I could fix and a change I could see.