The Perfection Myth – An Introspective Look at Passionate Obsessions
Arch. Ian Jay Bantilan
I want to share what happened to me yesterday.
“I was getting ready for a client meeting yesterday, so I took a bath, and chose my clothes. I passed by a book I wanted to take, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg, got it, and went back to choosing my wardrobe. I went out of my room and gathered my Laptop and things I would need for the meeting. Without my knowledge, my mom came in to my room and placed in some clothes in my closet, thereby covering the book I was to bring. This is in case my client would be late for the meeting, which I thought would be a nice read . . .”
“And so began the longest, most desperate, very frantic, highly hysterical, feverishly frenzied Book Hunting episode you will ever see in the 21st Century. That may be an overstatement, but the fact remains: it was frantic, it was hysterical, it was as passionate as the expedition to find the North Pole!”
My mom, concerned about my journey back and forth asked: “What is it thou seekest, O troubled one?”
I replied, “My quest is for the Sacred Book, my companion to the Client meeting.”
“Thou hast not spoken, it lies covered in thy chambers, where I have placed thy garments.” I just smiled sheepishly, took the book and proceeded my way. Now my day can go on.
Just to describe the experience, it’s an intuitive grasping for something that isn’t there, yet. While most people would simply stop, ask themselves, decide it’s too much effort and let it go, I was drawn to a supposed challenge, to find the missing book. I even forgot it was a need. There was a trigger. I could have easily tell myself, hey I don’t need this let’s go – forget it and leave.
Not stopping until you solved a software glitch, a quatratic equation, a Design Problem. Others might easily call this “Perfectionism”, which I believe is an inaccurate description of what happens in an obsessive mind. As I was reflecting on the incident I came to discovering some facts about what drives obsession.
Before I move on, there are some observations I would like to state.
- That some people have a greater tendency to be obsessive than others.
- That these people may not be obsessive in exactly the same situations. Situations can vary from getting their things “exactly aligned”, having to solve a math problem, etc.
- That these obsessions can be highly helpful if it is applied in a Professional feild. Astro-physics, Chemistry or Biblical Apologetics, Architecture, Painting, Law.
- That these obsessions begin as temptations which people are aware they can choose to stop, but have not opted or feel highly stressed to stop at the moment.
- These obsessions will remain acceptable if they do not a) Encroach the freedom of other people or b) Destroy or hamper the person himself.
On the other hand, Perfectionism holds the assumption that the obsession was actively placed by the person on himself. He creates these goals and pursues these goals.
In fact, these obsessions are triggered by events around the person, external events, and as these stimuli are “temptations” for acting on the obsession, the person was stimulated by these external factors. It is possible that these persons can feel “trapped” or “reactionary” to these events as opposed to actively pursuing the perfection of their passions. I’m sure the genius of Nikola Tesla was frustrated a thousand times before the discovery of AC Electricity. Nevertheless, the by-products and results of passion can be very fulfilling: a new theorem, a working formula, a new song, a beautiful painting and, in my case a unique design concept for a totally new building.
What are your thoughts. Let’s hear them!
Arch. Ian Jay Bantilan is a Blogger by Hobby, Architect by Profession and Artist at Heart.