Perfect irony: I’ve been trying to write this post about perfectionism and kept thinking to myself, “Am I even qualified to be writing about this?”
Hi, I’m Jordan and I struggle with perfectionism.
You wouldn’t know that from walking in my house though. I’m admittedly a messy person and don’t care if there’s unfolded blankets on the couch or a basket of laundry that always needs to be folded. That’s, unfortunately, not where I struggle with perfectionism.
No, instead I experience a perfectionism that has a lot more to do with having unrealistically high standards for myself and the image I present to the world. For me, perfectionism has a lot more to do with the social aspects of life and presenting myself in a “perfect” way than anything else. (I’m not an overall perfect perfectionist, I know.)
Perfectionism can show itself in many different forms. Some people struggle with unrealistic expectations of their self, some have unrealistic expectations of others, and some have unrealistic perceived expectations from society. The main aspect is that there is pressure to present perfect behavior or performance in one aspect or another.
A great resource for myself as I discovered this personal struggle with perfectionism was an article from Psychology Today entitled “9 Signs That You Might Be A Perfectionist.” Psychology Today is admittedly one of my favorite resources for advice and information on anything under the Psychology umbrella. Check out the list if you’re interested in the subject matter of perfectionism or think you or someone you know might benefit from learning more.
In the past few years, I’ve been working on myself as a person and how I exist in this world and, in many ways, I had to face my own shortcomings and flaws head-on. As a perfectionist, it’s been rough, to say the least. Working through all the things I have on mental repeat and attempting to “rewire” myself to live in a place of gratitude and acceptance of myself and others has been very challenging. Even more so when I have to interact with people on a daily basis.
I’ve tried to push myself into a place where I’m more accepting of efforts made by others than whether or not it was exactly what I needed at that moment. I’ve been forcing myself to live with an “attitude of gratitude” toward my own growth and the growth of the world around me. Forcing myself to re-evaluate my choices and the actions of those around me. This reevaluation process has given my life and existence so much more meaning and joy than I could have imagined.
I’ve found that having something happen at all is, in a way, perfect in itself. Sometimes having something happen imperfectly is better than never having happened at all. For example, I recently planned a fun hiking trip for my husband’s 30th birthday and we drove up to the Olympic National Park here in Washington. It was a fun weekend but literally, every hike and activity I planned fell through. The weather didn’t cooperate with the hikes we wanted to take, one of the roads to an area of the forest we visited was completely closed off. Basically, Murphy’s Law was in full effect. Instead of dwelling on all the imperfect aspects of the trip I planned, I tried to remember that sometimes the joy is found in the journey itself. We had a wonderful, relaxing time to drive all around the Olympic Penninsula and even visited a beach with a tree I had been dying to visit for years but never thought I would just stumble upon.
Over the past few years that I’ve been reassigning value and meaning to my experiences, there are countless examples of things being better than my first “perfectionist” evaluation of them.
I’ve tried to move my life beyond living a perfectly curated Instagram or Pinterest worthy lifestyle and truly focused myself and my energy toward living in each moment and enjoying all the imperfect aspects that includes. Sometimes it’s bad skin or bad hair, other times it’s intentionally not taking a picture of a perfect moment and just enjoying it with all my senses instead.
People and situations are almost never perfect. But I’ve learned that if I focus my energy on realizing and appreciating the positive aspects of my life over the ones that are “unworthy” or “unperfect”, I’m going to have a much better time. And somehow, almost as if by magic, truly perfect moments and experiences have presented themselves amidst all the chaotic imperfections. It’s as if the universe actively responds to my acceptance of imperfections and allows me to live in perfectly imperfect harmony with the ebb and flow of life.
So while perfectionism is still a daily struggle and one that I have by no means conquered, I hope reading this has helped someone out there also struggling with accepting things the way they are.
Being able to participate in life, even when things aren’t perfect, has been so much more rewarding for me than never participating at all. Writing this blog post and publishing it, rather than keeping it in my drafts for another month as I continually add, edit, and delete is one of my own steps in the right direction. My blog has readable content. My audience has another glimpse into an aspect of who I am, and maybe a way to better understand who they are.
Perfectionism still does hold me back from a lot, but by acknowledging and accepting it, I’ve been able to allow myself to live more fully in the life that I’m blessed to have than to remain a spectator on the sidelines waiting for the perfect moment to join in.