Embracing Perfectionism


one word,  yet a complete line

symbolic of me

Embracing perfectionism. And when I say embracing, what I really mean is squeezing the living daylights out of it, wrestling it to the ground, straddling it, pinning down its arms and giving it an ultimatum: “Stop messing with my life. Or else!”. (And no, I haven’t figured out the “or else” part yet.)

I readily admit that I am a perfectionist. That’s not really much of a secret. It has been a tad bit more difficult admitting that my perfectionism has not served me well in life.  It has been a crutch and an excuse. It has placed limitations on my life. Now that I have acknowledged this, I understand exactly why it needs to go. I am ready to give perfectionism a kick to the curb.

Some aspects can hang around, however. As long as they don’t get into trouble. I really like my food pantry (everything neatly stored in glass jars). And writing (editing, revising, editing, revising…you get the point.) And my spice rack (alphabetical order). And my clothes’ closet (winter clothes, summer clothes, short sleeves, long sleeves, cords, long pants, capris, work clothes, play clothes, and all arranged by the color of the rainbow). Okay…this one may be a problem.

For as long as I can remember, I have been eager to please. Now, I admit, this hasn’t always been a bad thing. It served me well during my childhood. I was always a good kid, doing what was asked of me without questioning authority. But to this day, I still tend to avoid conflict at all costs, because I don’t want anyone to be mad at, or think poorly of me. The problem with this is, I have never learned how to deal with conflict in a healthy manner. My way of dealing with it has been by avoiding it. I find myself clamming up when my opinion differs from others or I am criticized. I do what is expected of me, even when I don’t believe in what I am doing, simply because I don’t want to make waves.

Being average terrifies me. There is nothing special about being ordinary. When I was in school, anything less than an ‘A’ was perceived as a failure. A ‘B’ was devastating. It was never about what I had done well, but what I hadn’t done well. Whatever prevented me from attaining perfection became a thorn in my side. And while at times, it pushed me to be my best, it was not always the healthiest route.  Unfortunately, I have carried this mentality into my adult life as well. Professionally, it pushes me to spend way too much time on things that are not crucial to my success as a teacher. Personally, it prevents me from taking part in activities that I cannot excel in, as I tend to avoid anything with a risk of failure. There have been numerous times in my life that I have given up on something before I even began.

Perfectionism has impacted my ability to establish meaningful relationships. I am hesitant to let people see the real me for fear that they may not like what they see. I have a difficult time opening up to others, as I fear rejection. I struggle to let others see the “imperfect” me. Therefore, I tend to keep others at a safe distance. Some of my relationships are very superficial because of this.

Now for the most embarrassing admission. I am highly critical of others. Of course I am old (wise?) enough to keep the comments (or at least most of them) in my head, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have the thoughts. Perhaps it’s because I am so critical of myself. Perhaps it’s because it allows me to feel better about myself. Either way, it’s not the way I want to live.

So now, I am choosing to acknowledge and lovingly embrace that …

life is not black or white.

it’s okay to have disagreements.

sometimes life (and my house) gets messy.

the process is more important than the end result.

failure is an opportunity to learn.

I am unique and special JUST BY BEING ME.

comparing myself to others is an exercise in futility.

not everybody is going to like me. Yikes! This is a tough one. But, as long as I am living an honest, caring life, I just need to let this one go.

I don’t need to be perfect to be loved.






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