Why Perfectionism Plagues the LGBTQ Community and How to Deal With It?
For so many people, being gay, lesbian, transgender or queer makes them feel broken. They may have been explicitly told their identity is unacceptable or wrong by non-supportive family members; if they lived in the closet for a long time, there is an innate desire to make everyone happy and prove themselves as “good enough” that can transform into a major struggle with perfectionism.
Being LGBTQ is more accepted than ever, but that doesn’t automatically make it any easier for anyone. Coming out is still scary, and there are still many people who will judge you based on hurtful stereotypes, negative stigmas and false ideas about who you are. You might even find yourself struggling to accept yourself as LGBTQ because you don’t feel like you’re living the way you should.
To overcome perfectionism, it’s important to first understand the way it’s linked to your identity.
A Protection Against Discrimination
While they’re still young children, many LGBTQ men, women and individuals were picked on or shunned by classmates. They may have been called gay as an insult or had other slurs hurled at them. At any age, this would be painful, but to a child who is still so vulnerable emotionally and mentally, it can be detrimental.
When you don’t feel accepted for who you are while you’re still developing, it can lead to constant feelings of worthlessness and insecurity in adulthood. To overcome the feeling of being “not good enough,” perfectionism can emerge as a defense mechanism. Proving yourself to others, whether it’s as the most talented, smart or successful, becomes a means of keeping yourself safe.
How Perfectionism Holds You Back
On the outside, many perfectionists really are successful. They might hold esteemed degrees or academic credentials, have great jobs in sought-after fields and be living a life others even envy. But that doesn’t mean they’re satisfied. In fact, at the core of perfectionism, there is a driving force of dissatisfaction. Nothing really feels “enough” because you could always do more, be more, look better, etc.
Left unchecked, perfectionism can create a cycle of anxiety and depression that makes achievement even harder. This, in turn, fuels greater feelings and fears of inadequacy. You’ll suddenly find yourself trapped trying to be the best while constantly feeling the worst.
Hiding Behind the “Perfect” Image
For many trans men and women, being “perfect” means conforming to everyone else’s idea of what they should look like. If you are closeted, this could mean embracing the epitome of masculinity or femninity while denying your true identity. If you are open but still struggle to look the “right” way, vulnerability and intimacy become challenges rather than joys in any relationship.
Rather than feeling comfortable showing someone who you are, there is an underlying fear that any type of imperfection is a fatal flaw that no one will ever be able to truly accept and love.
Overcoming Perfectionism Through Therapy
A LGBTQ counselor can help you address perfectionism’s impact on your mental health, self-esteem and self-image. Marrying your true self with your LGBTQ identity takes a lot of inner work, which can be difficult to tackle alone. Together, we can work one-on-one to overcome your anxiety, fears and negative thoughts. We can work on building self-acceptance and growing more comfortable with not being “perfect.” You can learn to be real.
Contact us today to book a session with one of our Colorado therapists.