Growing up I heard, “practice makes perfect!” From that statement, one would naturally deduce that the goal was perfection, right?
I spent my childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood striving to be perfect (whatever that is). My biggest hang up wasn’t even attaining a status of perfection in my own eyes, it was being viewed as perfect by others. I wanted so desperately to get stuff right, to be pleasing and accepting to others. Especially to my mom whose consistent acceptance I never seemed to be good enough for.
Here’s what my efforts got me…NOTHING! Absolutely nothing! Well, that’s not entirely true. They got me depression, anxiety, low self-worth, and a confused identity. Can we say Whack.com!
This thing called perfectionism was deeply entrenched in just about every area of my life.
Here are a few that you may also be familiar with:
- What Flaws? – I thought having flaws meant I was a defective human. I mean, technically it does. I AM a defective human, but I was under the assumption there was something deathly wrong with this. I committed so much time and energy to concealing any flaws I felt were visible to the outside world. Whether it was my depression or cellulite.
- Expert Such In Such – I couldn’t be wrong. In my mind, being wrong ruined all of my credibility. It didn’t matter if I’d been challenged and it was obvious my responses weren’t informed, I would not concede.
- Control Freak – Everything had to be just the way I imagined it or it wasn’t right. This led to much discontentment and often times procrastination.
As I approached my 30th birthday, I made the decision I would no longer care about what others thought of me, and I didn’t mean this in the trite way we see smeared across social media. I meant, I would no longer allow myself to be controlled by the fictional standards I’d created in my own mind and assigned to others because let’s face it, we are the ones assuming we know what others think of and are expecting from us. In the end, it’s really just based on how we view ourselves subconsciously.
I can’t act like making this adjustment was easy. In fact, it’s still something I struggle with a bit. What helps here is being aware and honest with myself. I mentioned this in another post, I now test my own motives. I will literally say to myself, “who am I doing this for?”
The easiest part of grieving my perfect life was accepting the fact that there is no such thing as perfect (*breathes deep sigh of relief). And since this was an unrealistic pursuit, I figured I may as well embrace my imperfections. I was hardly prepared for how freeing this would be. It’s funny, often people will tell me how courageous and brave I am for bearing my flaws to the world via my posts. But it really has nothing to do with courage or bravery. Rather, it’s me living freely.
Since it’s our own insecurities that feed our pursuit of perfectionism, it is important that we frequently take inventory of our insecurities and check them.
Here are three things you can start doing today:
- Give Voice to Your Fears – When we don’t acknowledge our fears, their power grows and becomes crippling. Use your fear to propel you forward. Let’s say you have a fear that your product will flop. Guess what? That’s a real possibility. It’s ok to admit that. But immediately after you admit that, think through some unique strategies you have that will increase the likelihood your product will sell.
- Light Fire to Your Comfort Zone – Push yourself to make uncomfortable decisions. Decisions that may just make you look silly to others but that align with what you feel you have been called to do. Start small but allow your confidence to be rooted in the mission, not in whether or not you receive the acceptance of others.
- Be Authentic – Authenticity is the enemy to perfectionism. All things good happen when we are authentic. We grow, we heal, we inspire, and as a bonus- we experience deeper relationships. Share your struggles (while you’re in them). Embrace not knowing and open yourself up to learn from others. Be willing to take what is perceived to be an “L” (aka a Loss) if it will enable you to reset and strengthen your approach. Be who you would be if you no longer were concerned about what others think.