Counseling and Testing Center aims to help WKU students with self confidence

Melissa Hardesty

My biggest fear of letting go of perfectionism is…?

Betsy Pierce of the Counseling and Testing Center opened Tuesday night’s “Increasing Your Self-Confidence” session with that question.

Silence ensued.

“I won’t call anyone out,” Pierce said, “but I want each of you to think about these things. Students come in for counseling, and I ask them what they’re doing to manage their stress. The typical response is a deer in headlights look.

“When you’re dealing with school, work, your family and everything else, you might be making it. But you might also be pushing yourself to a limit.”

Although students usually don’t come to the Counseling and Testing Center specifically for self confidence and perfectionism issues, Pierce said she and the other counselors believe unrealistically high standards are to blame for many problems faced by WKU students.

“Increasing Your Self-Confidence: Perfectionism” discussed the behaviors of a perfectionist and the fine line between being driven and driving yourself crazy.

Below are some behaviors of a perfectionist discussed by Pierce and other group members at tonight’s session.

1. I must put 100 percent into everything or my work will be mediocre and a failure.

Perfectionists feel as though every aspect of their life requires 100 percent effort, but that’s not always necessary. That “all-or-nothing” thinking is the fuel behind issues like eating disorders and depression.

It’s not about slacking off or producing subpar work, Pierce said, but occasionally giving 80 percent and getting a 93 percent instead of a 95 percent won’t hurt your grades that much in the long run.

Lousiville freshman Sidney Wahle said he often feels the pressure to focus on grades because of his upbringing.

“I grew up without a lot of money, but my parents did a lot to make sure I went to an expensive private school and that I had opportunities,” Wahle said. “Grades are a big deal for me.”

2. I often burn out.

Occasional burnout is normal, especially for college students, Pierce said.

However, if students experience frequent burnout, she said, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your activities and time management abilities.

Burnout is usually a result of taking on too many activities. It might be time to cut back on something so you can fully focus on what’s necessary to accomplish your goals.

3. I have so many “shoulds” in my life that I rarely enjoy myself or pay attention to my wants.

“Should isn’t a bad word, but it should be,” said Pierce, with a laugh.

Typically, “I should be going to class,” or “I should show up for work” are not the issues for college students. Going over and over something that should’ve been done differently during a day is when “should” becomes detrimental to a person’s well-being, says Pierce.

4. I don’t trust anyone else in a project because they won’t meet my standards.

“I’m not asking you to lower your standards,” Pierce quickly clarified. “Asking someone to do their best is all you can ask of them. People can’t be defined by one thing. Everyone has different strengths, so their idea of ‘best’ might be different from yours.”

5.    I react negatively to suggestions related to my work because I take it as criticism of me as a person.

Many classes and career fields require critiques from professors and peers. It’s important to separate yourself from your work. Just because the person doesn’t like a photo you took or a paper you wrote doesn’t mean they don’t like you, Pierce said in closing.

“Increasing Your Self-Confidence: Perfectionism” is the first of four sessions hosted by the Counseling and Testing Center. Each session will cover a different aspect of self confidence and will take place at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in DUC 226.

The Counseling and Testing Center is open for appointments Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.