Progress Not Perfection
I wanted to write for Amanda’s Thinking out Loud linkup since it is Thursday, but rather than a lot of random thoughts like I normally do, I only have one main one. It is a topic that I have brought up a number of times before on here, but it’s something that I continually struggle with. As time goes on I get more comfortable with the idea, but I have learned that life is an ebb and flow and while I may grasp and accept an idea one day, the next I may be struggling with it.
I am a serious perfectionist. Throughout my life this trait has served as an asset: successful in school, work, etc. Where it gets me into trouble is in accepting that I am a human being who makes mistakes.
I had a bit of a freak out last week before my birthday. I started judging myself for all the things that I need to get done this year that aren’t done yet, questioning my career path and whether I should go back to school, my timeline for having kids, etc. All at once I decided that I had made all sorts of mistakes in life and that because of those I was some kind of failure. I had lost faith that everything I have gone through has happened for a reason and that everything will work out just the way it is supposed to for me.
I have an easier time these days forgiving myself for small mistakes like forgetting to pick something up at the store, but if I were to make a larger mistake, I would very quickly pick up the proverbial bat and have a good swing session with myself. I want to be able to accept myself as a flawed human being as we all are, but it is difficult.
I used to not like learning things from other people because I felt like it exposed the fact that I didn’t know everything. I would practice sports by myself until I felt like I was good at them because I didn’t want anyone seeing me in my learning stage. I didn’t want them to see me make mistakes. Trying to be perfect also means that I have a difficult time admitting when I am wrong. I will try to justify and rationalize my words or actions to avoid the acknowledgement that I may not know everything. Let’s just say it’s made for some drawn out arguments.
The more I demand perfection of myself, the more that I demand it from others and I lose compassion and empathy. It is unfair to both parties and it takes me away from developing and nurturing successful relationships. I find when I am more forgiving with myself, I am more forgiving and understanding of others and don’t set incredibly lofty standards that are often impossibly out of reach.
When I live in my perfectionism, I am not living in today. I am not enjoying the moment because I am obsessing about whether I said the right thing, did the right thing, etc. All we really have is today, so for this day I will stop setting unrealistic expectations of myself. I will miss too much of life if I wait to be perfect.
Question of the day: Do you have problems with perfectionism? How do you deal with it?