My name is Bethany, and I am a recovering perfectionist.
The pursuit of perfection was a way of life for me, for years. However, I refused to call myself a “perfectionist,” because the things I did were not perfect. So I must not be trying hard enough, to be an actual perfectionist.
That’s right. I thought I wasn’t perfect enough to be a perfectionist. That’s how bad I was.
What did perfectionism do for me?
1. It kept me from taking more chances with my writing, such as publishing a book. It also kept me from starting this blog, sooner.
2. It kept me from reaching out and meeting other people, because I needed to be “good enough” first.
3. It kept me in a job and home situation I was unhappy with, because I needed to complete an arbitrary set of steps–perfectly–before I would allow myself to leave.
4. It kept me from having people over, because my house didn’t look “good enough.”
5. Perfectionism kept me from losing weight, because it made the stakes so high. My body became a visible reminder that I wasn’t good enough. And if I didn’t follow the diet perfectly, then forget it. One extra slice of bread turned into a day filled with candy bars and chips.
Here’s the thing: People who pretend to be perfect are boring. “Imperfection” is what allows us to grow. And growing and changing is what makes life interesting. You could even argue that it’s what makes life worthwhile, and even what makes us human.
Think about it. What if I had started out writing this blog, already in the place where I wanted to be? What if I had it all together, was completely fearless, and already lived on a boat in Texas or wherever? Would that be as interesting? I’m guessing not. I’m guessing that you’re here to see the journey.
In letting go of perfectionism, and accepting our imperfections as opportunities to learn and grow, we allow ourselves the journey. We should take that journey, and push ourselves to grow, change, and improve. Such a journey is based on love–love for who we are, love for humanity (by embracing the common experience of growth and change, and seeing the potential in ourselves as well as everyone else), and love for the world that we are trying to improve.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, is based on fear. We’re afraid of being judged by others, so we try to make it so that nobody can judge us (yet we judge ourselves horribly in the process). We’re afraid to move forward, so we convince ourselves that we are not very worthy of doing so.
Perfectionism is mental clutter, and it’s time to throw it in the dumpster.