Elizabeth Gilbert said it best when she said, “Perfectionism is fear in high heels.” I’ve always thought that being perfect meant that I was paying attention, trying my best, and being an overachiever. What I’ve actually learned is that my perfection has been a mask hiding the fear that I’m not good enough.
Good enough at what you might ask? Everything.
You name it and I have a fear of not being good enough– a good enough artist, friend, daughter, mother (to a dog for now), wife, business woman, yogi, gardener, etc. etc. My need for perfection runs deep. A fear of what other people thought of me, my family being the most important and a fear of what people would see if I wasn’t all put together.
In a session with a health coach I was seeing, she made a comment about how my photo in my email signature looked like a woman who had it all together. She was surprised to find out how much stress this had been causing me. I told her that to look like that woman in the photo was a lot of work. Seeming like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing is probably the reason I’ve been so tired all these years.
As we reflected on my goals for my health they came to reducing stress, having energy, and generally feeling happy. Perfection doesn’t make room for any of those things.
It’s been a process to become a recovering perfectionist, just like recovering from any form of unhealthy lifestyle. It’s a day by day battle to remember what you want most, what matters, and what you can let go of. I still wear lipstick when I’m meeting with friends (I honor my grandmother with this tradition) but I might skip the foundation and embrace the adult acne I’ve been battling with since the beginning of the pandemic. I publish blog posts without reading them multiple times, because I have shit to do and spelling/grammar will never be my strong suit (thank you mild dyslexia). I’ve stopped painting my nails thinking that my hands (and toes) had to look a certain way. (I prefer them covered in dirt or paint for my paintings which never did well for well-manicured hands). I dress to feel good in my skin and less to impress.
I think the most powerful thing I’ve done is asked myself one single question that continues to shape my life. If you didn’t have to be perfect what would you be? My answers?
Happy, Free, Creative, Loved.
Now that sounds like a world I want to be a part of. What would you be?
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