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The Heavy Burden of Attempting Perfection; I Give Up!

I want to be a good person.  As a matter of fact, I strive to be a great person, and have big dreams for making a significant contribution to this world.  Unfortunately, my attempt at perfection continues to catapult me from a world of despair to joy to despair again.

The list of ‘to do’s’ that us ADHDers have, and really anybody for that matter, is tremendous.  I mean, every day, I expect more than perfection and wonder why I feel so shitty.

Look at my list, who can do this?

Daily Standards:

  • don’t drink alcohol
  • be kind
  • smile and be in a good mood
  • be gracious
  • write thank-yous
  • don’t yell
  • don’t get mad
  • don’t judge or criticize
  • don’t smoke
  • workout
  • meditate
  • get back to everyone that contacts you
  • look good
  • have ample money
  • be a great aunt, sister, cousin, and daughter.
  • have really great friends that are there for everything
  • don’t be late AGAIN
  • don’t associate with the ‘wrong people’
  • be a good influence on the ‘wrong people’
  • get a lot of work done
  • accomplish what is in your mind
  • be well spoken
  • always do what is right, not popular
  • always be honest
  • be cool and entertaining
  • be in nature
  • know how to surf, bike, ski, sail, and everything else
  • help others
  • don’t be lazy
  • eat well
  • be compassionate
  • eat ice cream
  • feel good
  • don’t feel guilty
  • don’t manipulate
  • don’t control
  • don’t text
  • have a great relationship with a man
  • be a role model
  • don’t do drugs
  • make sure everyone likes you
  • don’t do anything to piss people off
  • always make amends for upsetting others
  • think positive
  • say only good about people
  • keep your mind clean
  • don’t sleep with guys unless you are in a steady relationship
  • don’t let others take advantage of you
  • don’t take advantage of other people
  • know everything
  • be interesting and captivating
  • don’t have kids until you can be an amazing, stable, perfect parent
  • laugh
  • don’t be depressed
  • be centered
  • practice spirituality
  • be grateful
  • stay organized
  • become self-actualized
  • don’t let things break, and fix them
  • let go of things
  • don’t overcommit
  • don’t act impulsively
  • keep emotions stable
  • be happy
  • see all sides of every situation
  • don’t be bad
  • accept everyone
  • on and on and on and on and on

And this is just in the past half hour I have been thinking of these things.  Notice how many ‘don’ts’ there are?  That alone is not good, as according to the attractor factor theory, we only think about what we want to manifest in our life (and I believe it!).  And then there I go criticizing myself again.

It is through this breakdown of my spirit, isolation of myself and reflection that I start to understand where this ‘need’ for perfection comes from, and how ADHD only magnifies the problem twenty-fold.  Half of those things up there contradict each other, and I am trying to do them all at once.  Life doesn’t work so well this way.  Breathe.

After 39 years of running around I am finally forced to sit still and sift through all of this, and it’s hard.  I get really sad that I’m not a better person, and that makes me sad because of the fact that I am TELLING myself that.  But when I write out this list, and think about it, that list is not who I am.

I spent some time creating a board of what I want to be, what I am.  And I look at it every day.  I want those thoughts going through my mind all the time.  But then the voice inside me cries – “you don’t want to be narcissistic and grandiose”.

Let me tell you, I am sick of this voice.  I don’t deserve this voice.  Nobody does.

So if you find yourself getting really frustrated with yourself, try writing down all the ways you tell yourself you have to be ‘good’ every day.  Maybe it is two things, or a hundred.  Doesn’t matter.  It is a burden.  Now tear it up, burn it, and do away with it.

Now write down what you are.  The good.  Use that ADHD to come up with a hundred reasons why you ARE good.  And give yourself kudos for doing just that.

The Heavy Burden of Attempting Perfection; I Give Up!

Kathryn Goetzke

I own a company called the Mood-factory (, a company that creates products based on how sensory experiences effect moods. I also run a nonprofit for depressio, iFred (, we are working to change the brand of depression. And yes, I have ADHD, along with PTSD, major depressive disorder, and a host of other challenges, opportunities, and gifts.

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APA Reference
Goetzke, K. (2010). The Heavy Burden of Attempting Perfection; I Give Up!. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Sep 2010
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