I always have been. In fact, I don't remember the last time I didn't strive for perfection. Even as a young girl, I would put myself down if I didn't achieve the best I possibly could. In primary school I hated myself if I didn't get every spelling right, or if I didn't fill my reading book record up.
This unreasonable expectation seems to have carried with me throughout my teenage and adult life too. During my GCSEs I gained all A*'s except for an A in English Language and English Literature - and I couldn't celebrate the rest of my results, because I didn't achieve those two little *'s and I was therefore really disappointed in myself. For some of my university work I received a merit instead of a distinction, so I felt like I wasn't good enough to be studying medicine.
And then tonight I found out that for one exam result I didn't get as high as I possibly could (although I got the highest possible result for my 3 other exams). It made me feel awfully disappointed in myself and all of my other achievements disappeared from my mind.
Until my mum and sister told me how proud they were of me, and reminded me how well I am doing, even with my struggles with my mental health in the past.
And for once in my life I realised how stupid I was being. Perfection is impossible and an unrealistic target. I have done incredibly well regarding my grades so far, and that is something I should celebrate - not put myself down for.
I think my perfectionism is probably one of the reasons that I've suffered with depression, and that's one huge reason why it needs to stop. Over the past few months I have been able to accept myself more for who I am, and fully embrace my personality, flaws and all. I think this needs to be extended to my studies and grades - I can't expect to do well all of the time, and I need to stop fearing failure. Failing is good - it makes you learn, and it makes you grow.
So I think we all need to stop reaching for perfection and unrealistic targets, and start being completely and unapologetically ourselves. Perfection has never, and will never, exist, for as long as we continue to be individuals.