The perfectionist problem
Hi, my name is Chrysta, and I’m a perfectionist. A recovering perfectionist, that is. If only there were a twelve step group for this.
I’ve been a perfectionist since birth. As my mom tells it, I was the most perfect little girl she ever knew. With porcelain skin, blue eyes, and blonde curls, I even looked the part. I didn’t like to be dirty, and used a napkin from a very young age so I wouldn’t get food on my face or hands. I potty trained myself at an early age, one day deciding to use the potty like a big girl and never wearing a diaper again.
You might think I got all “A”‘s in school, but my perfectionism was such a burden I mostly managed “B”‘s. When I was 7 years old I came home from school one day and angrily threw my homework in the trash. When my mom asked why I was throwing my homework in the garbage I replied, “because I got a ‘B’, and ‘b’ is ‘bad’.”
You can see I was a very serious little girl. I took everything in, and I took it all personally. I was very harsh with myself, and much of the time I hated myself and my life. I wasn’t a happy child.
Being a perfectionist wasn’t all bad. It pushed me to look past my current situation and strive for something better. My perfectionism motivated me to improve my circumstances.
I am grateful for my perfectionism; it’s an important part of me. It gave me a chance to become who I wanted to be, to begin to love myself, and to learn to live a life I loved. But all that was a long time coming. My perfectionism gave me the drive to change, but still I had to let go to grow. It was my greatest curse and my greatest blessing. Perfectionism was the cause and the solution to many of my problems.
Letting go of perfectionism wasn’t easy. It was how I survived and I didn’t know how to live without it. Of course, as it turns out, as long as I was a perfectionist I could only just survive.
Slowly, little by little, I began to see myself as I would see a small child. A child learning to walk is not in error when she stumbles and falls- she is learning. I was learning to live and I fell down many times.
Today, I strive for progress, not perfection. I embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. I am not afraid to be imperfect- I actually enjoy the messiness and beauty of living a perfectly imperfect life. I’m not perfect. I have never been perfect, and I will never be perfect.
A message for anyone struggling with perfection
When you’re struggling with perfection, please try not to be hard on yourself. Imagine yourself as a small child who is learning to walk.
Recognize your perfectionism as a blessing. Use that drive for progress, not perfection.
Accept yourself as perfectly imperfect. You are a human being, not a human doing, and in this you are as perfect as you can be. <3
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