I don’t know if there is a group called Perfectionists Anonymous, but if there isn’t there should be. Most of us have context-specific perfectionism, linked with generous doses of self criticism. We live comfortably for the most part, but when it comes to our special bugaboo, we literally make ourselves crazy worrying, fussing and over-preparing for situations we can’t control and probably should not approach with control impulses all a-twitch.
Context specific perfectionism shows up in our dreams with recurring themes of over preparation and trying to appease arbitrary requirements for passage, graduation, or “getting there.”
One version of this dream involves packing and rushing to the airport, only to find that you either can’t get packed properly and the preparation mushrooms out of control, or you get to the airport and there are so many bewildering requirements and passports to show that you miss your flight by fiddling with details.
While in one sense, these preparation dreams reflect the challenge of modern life, they present most frequently to those people who are actually very much on top of their game, high achievers, folks who seldom drop the ball and have, as the job postings reverently refer to it, “a great attention to detail.” The recurring themes reflect a tendency to be stuck in the gear of over-preparation, particularly in contexts where it would be more fruitful to let down your guard and have a more casual and restful approach.
If your dreams show you hurtling toward the airport, or rushing toward your goal, dropping your to-do list and having your suitcase fly apart, this could be a time to take a deep breath and carve out time to literally switch gears. You are a multifaceted being, with myriad qualities, interests and needs. Despite your ability to achieve a high level of efficiency, you are not a machine!
Get some time in nature, go to a movie strictly for entertainment, spend time with careless and funny friends you’ve neglected too long. Bring home a kitten from the shelter. Mess up your routine a little bit and observe the reflex to move into auto-fuss mode. The pursuit of perfection is a tool, it is not all that you are. Make some room for your Self, and you’ll find it not only works well, and does not sabotage your life, but you also will feel better than you have in years!
For more info on contemporary anxiety and frustration dreams, pick up a copy of The Complete Dream Book.