On Autistic Perfectionism2 min read

For most of my life, I have been in a per­petual state of trying to accom­plish the next thing.

Ironically, or per­haps as should be expected, I have rarely felt as though the project I just fin­ished is worthy of per­sonal praise. This innate autistic per­fec­tionism, this strong desire to do “enough,” has wounded me time and time again.

In the past, I have used con­crete accom­plish­ments to mea­sure suc­cess. I thought to myself, if I can just earn the next degree, I’ll feel suc­cessful. If I can just make a bit more money I’ll be sat­is­fied with my career. If I can just com­plete the next step I’ll find ful­fill­ment. I have defined my value by how others may per­ceive me, instead of by who I am. I have looked at it all wrong.
Success isn’t rooted in a fancy job title, high-end salary, or impres­sive resume sheet. It is highly-individualized and should be defined by how we feel about our­selves and the world sur­rounding us. We are here to build a life, not make a living.
The truth is, I like my life. I enjoy working with chil­dren– and, I am good at it. It is impor­tant and worthy work. I enjoy making music– and, I am good at it. It is impor­tant and worthy work. All work is impor­tant and worthy work.
I do not bring in an impres­sive amount of money, but I am not lacking in life. I am not strug­gling or defi­cient in the things I need. I could cer­tainly switch to a more traditionally-professional path and be a bigger “suc­cess” on paper, but my life would be short on pas­sion. It would not be worth the loss of self-actualization. I have enough, and I do enough. This life I am living, it is enough.

Maybe your goals in life are a bit heftier than mine. Perhaps the thought of being a doctor or lawyer or CEO truly sets your soul on fire. If so, you should do it. You should fear­lessly pursue what­ever sparks your pas­sion. Just be sure you are doing the right things for the right rea­sons.

I believe the only way to reach the top of the prover­bial moun­tain is to stop climbing. Stop plan­ning and problem solving. Stop scaling and sweating and per­se­vering.  Just stop.  Look around, and you will see that you are already there. 

Don’t ever stop working towards your pas­sions and goals, but DO stop waiting for them to val­i­date your exis­tence.

Bloom where you are planted.



  1. Great post, it had me thinking back to the 1980s, the age of the go go go yuppie lifestyle where everyone thought they had to make loads of money to be suc­cessful. I see the folly of that these days.

  2. I relate to this a lot.

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