This week I wanted to vent a little bit about my battle with perfectionism. Sounds a bit dramatic, no? I’m chuckling to myself a bit just rereading that first line. “Battle with perfectionism?” Sounds like it’s taken over my life or become some horrible addiction, right? Well, if I’m honest, it actually has.
Over the last few years I started to really hone in on my various perfectionistic tendencies. They’ve ranged in varying degrees from detailed organization to obsessive punctuality to OCD-like tendencies. This actually reads much more intense than it actually appears in practice, but over time I’ve started to notice these tendencies, and more importantly the way they make me feel.
The problem with striving for perfection is that it makes me feel like I’m on a hamster-wheel marathon; always running to catch up with that elusive goal, but never reaching any satisfying end. In all that efforting all I end up feeling is tired and inadequate. How exhausting is that? Why not just lighten up a bit, right? Recently, I asked my awesome coach, Mary, to help me unearth my perfectionistic roots and what I’m discovering is super liberating. She’s helped me to craft a healthier perspective for looking at perfection and it’s really working for me.
Until recently, my version of perfect was synonymous with all things flawless and free of defect. I’ve realized, though, that this definition is super vague and leaves way to much room for standard-raising subjectivity. Instead, Mary’s offered me a more mathematical lens to look through…and I like it. Now, I see perfect as 90 degree angles on graphing paper. It’s equations that are cut and dry. Precision. Physics. Laws of science and logic that are exact predicable every single time they’re applied. I love the freedom that this new reframe has created in my mind.
By these new standards any striving towards ‘perfect’ feels calculated, impersonal, and robotic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of any circumstance where ‘mathematical perfect’ apply. I’m just not willing to live my day to day life as a slave to these static standards anymore. As much as I love Vicky from Small Wonder I’m not quite ready to live my life as a robot and sleep in a life-size cabinet at night.
So I’m choosing to replace my striving for perfection with living for joy. Instead of experiencing my daily life as a never-ending to-do list that needs to be attended to ‘just-so’ I’m gonna allow myself to use daily activities as a chance to experience joy, creativity, and self-expression. That feels way more liberating. It feels like I have a choice in how I do things, instead of pressuring myself to reach some elusively, unattainable, self-imposed standard. It feels light, fun, and fresh.
There is still a place for perfection in my life. Like having the right amount of plates for everyone at the dinner table or using the proper key to open the front door. I’m starting to make a distinction between the distinct moments when this type of perfection is required and the moments when I’m free to choose and create my own experience. It’s a work in progress, but I’m happy to say I’m a recovering perfectionist and dang proud of the lesson in self-expansion I’ve learned along the way.
Welcome home freedom, joy, and self-expression. It’s so nice to see you.
Sending oodles of love and empowering choice to you, lovelies!
P.S. Have you struggled with a personal habit or addiction that’s limited your self-expression? Do you have any tips for how you’ve reframed your mentality to make more room for joy? Be brave and share your story or comments in the space below. I promise you’ll be heard and loved in the most supportive framework possible. Love you, lovely 🙂
Photo Credit: Robert Ochialini