The Problem With Perfection
Do you ever feel the overwhelming desire to be perfect? You know, the Super Woman who can cook a perfect gourmet, clean, low-fat meal without breaking a sweat; who manages a perfectly clean house with no clutter and not a speck of dust; who is always fashionably attired and coifed; who plans the perfect Pinterest party with DIY party favors; who has stories of the perfect Girl’s Nights and perfect Date Nights; who wears the perfect-sized jeans; who has the perfect job with the most perfectly timed promotions at work; or who is perfectly happy working at home where she runs a perfect and prosperous Etsy shop. I do.
I can remember feeling this need for perfection even when I was younger. My 10th grade English teacher had us write a paper about ourselves. I don’t remember the actual prompt, but I do remember it was a life-changing moment for me. I wrote about the first time I got a “B” on my report card. It was from my 7th grade choir teacher. I didn’t understand how it happened. I had perfect attendance and perfect participation. When I went in to ask why I had gotten such a low grade and petition that she change it to an “A,” she told me it was for having bad pitch. It killed me. I didn’t know that I was being graded on that, otherwise I would have been working on being, well, pitch perfect. I know that it may sound silly to you, but for me it was devastating. Up until then I had had straight A’s. I wasn’t an athlete or a popular kid. So as far as I was concerned, the only thing I had going for me was being good at school. Writing this 10th grade paper made me realize that I felt like getting a “B” was a failure. I had bad pitch. Obviously, I was doing something wrong. I felt like my teacher was telling me that I just wasn’t good enough. In reality, she wasn’t. But that is how I felt.
This need for perfection stems from the desire for approval. If my grades are top notch, I am considered worthy. If my house is perfectly clean, you will think I’m good. If my kid’s party is Pinterest-perfect, then you will have a good time. If my jeans fit just right, then you will accept me or look up to me. If I am perfect, then I will be worthy of love and acceptance.
But let me tell you what I am finding. When I apologize to my husband and kids for failing them, most of the time they have no clue what I’m talking about. Or my husband will remind me that it is ok to have limits. And I know he’s right. In my desire for perfection, I am pushing myself too hard. I will stay up late working on project or just not sit down all day trying to keep up with the never-ending cycle of perfection. And then I’m in tears over my inability to keep it all going. It gets overwhelming at times and leaves me feeling incapacitated and hopeless.
I have found that I am way harder on myself than others are. I am worthy of love. And not for things that I have accomplished, but just for who I am. And so are you! You are worthy of love, friendship and respect.
The people who matter in my life (my husband, kids, and friends) won’t judge me for being less than perfect, because they don’t expect me to be. They aren’t perfect. No one walking on this Earth right now is perfect. They expect me to be me. We need to reevaluate our expectations of ourselves. You don’t have to be perfect, and neither do I.
I have to be me and will strive to be the best me that I can be. But if I don’t serve a perfect Paleo meal 3 times a day or can’t craft to save my life, it will be ok. That doesn’t take away from my worthiness to be loved. I refuse to let it continue to stress me out or incapacitate me. And if someone is judging me based off the fact that I have a stack of kids’ artwork and bills piled up in the corner of my kitchen or that I can’t get the frizz out of my hair, then I don’t really need that in my life.
Perfection doesn’t equal worth or lovability. To me it equals stress and little sleep. The less time I spend on being trying to be perfect, the more time I can spend enjoying the time with my family. And that sounds perfect to me.