As a recovering perfectionist, I understand. It’s ingrained in your head, that doing everything perfectly will open doors for you, will make people like you, will neatly tie up the loose ends of your life… but you can’t ever achieve it. No matter how hard you try, you never achieve perfection. Sometimes you might come close – a perfect grade in a class, a perfect work evaluation, a perfect dinner party. But it’s never quite there and for each touch of near-perfection you crave more.
You feel the agony of coming so close to perfection and never meeting it, and the searing pain of being so far from perfection it feels hopeless.
You are always your own worst critic. In the mirror all you can see is how one of your teeth is crooked, your face is asymmetrical, your skin is too shiny and your eye shadow isn’t the right shade. And don’t even start thinking about your thighs. You’re always too fat, except when you’re too skinny, you’re never the right height and whenever you open your mouth, you say the wrong things, especially on a date.
Right now you’re reading this and analyzing why your face isn’t symmetrical and why you are so awkward on dates. Stop.
No matter how hard you try, perfectionism will elude. You’ll back your new car into a mailbox and get in a fight with your neighbor over it. You’ll send a sext meant for your partner to your coworker by mistake. You’ll forget your sister’s birthday. You’ll plan out a nice dinner for your new crush and then set off the smoke alarm when you forget it in the oven. You’ll say the wrong things at holidays and embarrass your mother. And that’s ok. You’re human.
Let go. Repeat these words: I am ______ and I’m not perfect.
There’s freedom in those words. You’re not perfect and will never be perfect. No matter how hard you try, you’ll keep messing up.
So next time you mess up, instead of attacking yourself as a failure, repeat to yourself, “I’m not perfect and that’s ok.” You say and do the wrong things all the time. I know this because everyone does. Making mistakes is human.
Instead of beating yourself up, laugh. Laugh at all the messiness and awkwardness of you. You’re not different than other people. You’re just a regular person living a regular life, who makes mistakes and says the wrong things sometimes. You’re human.
Let go of trying to be perfect, and you will find freedom enough to live. Look in the mirror and smile as you see your imperfections. Go out and enjoy the world imperfectly. Be grateful for your friends that love you despite your imperfections, your boss that hired you despite the fact that you sometimes mess up, and your partner that wants to be with you, not perfect you.
You won’t ever be perfect, and that’s ok. You’re human like all of us. Let go of perfectionism and find freedom and grace on the other side.