“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing,

is giving up on being perfect

and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

~ Anna Quindlen

If only I were… thinner, more fit, single/married, had a better job, made more money, yada, yada, yada,…then my life would be perfect. Everything would fall into place. I would be happy!

Ever said any of those phrases to yourself? Or any of the variations on that theme?

We so often couch these statements with an innate belief that we aren’t perfect just as we are. And that changing something about ourselves wwill magically make us perfect, ensuring our happiness.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up believing that I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. After all, that’s the way I got approval when I was a kid. (More, please.) People noticed me. I stood out from the crowd.

Which led me to believing that if only I was perfect the accolades would be that much greater.

Unfortunately this developed into my belief that striving to be perfect was the path to acceptance.

And it wasn’t long until I expanded that thinking into believing that perfecting my outward appearance—based on media-dictated standards—would pave the way to widespread love and approval.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave for ourselves.

Older and wiser now, I have come to understand that there is a difference between striving to accomplish something for myself and trying for perfection to please others.

One is an internal recognition of what I can do. And it allows that sometimes I may not achieve what I’m after or perform as well as I would like. Either way, I become aware that it’s the trying—the process—that contains the juicy bits.

The other perspective, relying on external validation, is the result of giving away my power and my definition of myself. I let others determine who I am. And it will never be enough. It’s such a dependent way to live.

So, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I will never be perfect and that I will make mistakes. I now recognize that by learning from my mistakes I can continue to improve, but that has no bearing on my self-worth. The good news is that none of this will cause me to hold back on striving. The fear of failure and disapproval has lost its power over me.

And, hey, if someone recognizes what I’ve accomplished…it’s just gravy.

 

Your Call to Action

How can you talk about your imperfections in a more loving way? How will you act when they appear? What would change if you truly believed that you are doing the best you can? What gifts can be found in loving yourself, just as you are?

 

Comments

— 2 Comments

  1. Great post! I agree wholeheartedly – aiming for perfection is detrimental in both life and work. It prevents you from being your best self, doing your best work, and it’s incredibly inefficient (a lot of time wasted with little result).

    One of my favorite proverbs on the subject is: “perfect is the enemy of good.”

    • Why is it that we are so afraid of just doing “good””? Is it because we believe that “great” is the only option? Or that “great” is the way to acceptance by others? Some circumstances call for “great”, and most often “good” is enough. The trick is learning to distinguish when each applies, and then accepting that we are not diminished by our choices.