Welcome to My Island of Perfectionism!
Why an “island?”
Because on this island I am truly in my own head; truly in my own thoughts making up my own reality of how life should be.
This reality of “perfect” is of my own making. And while I can certainly blame my parents, culture, upbringing, and society, this version of reality that needs to be perfect is of my own choice and design.
Many of us battle with a beast called PERFECT. I don’t like this beast. I wouldn’t choose for anyone to suffer it’s slings and arrows. They penetrate too deeply. We learn at some point that we should attempt perfection. We learn that a B isn’t good enough, only the A counts. For some of us, A+ is the only grade.
We learn to master a certain skill and then give up when we realize we’ll never be as good as so and so-he or she is perfect.
We try and look perfect, act perfect, think perfect and constantly compare ourselves to others. We remain hidden to others, fearing that if they knew exactly who we actually were, we would be rejected somehow.
Dr. Brene Brown reports that according to her data in interviewing thousands of people, perfectionism is an attempt to avoid being seen. We strive to be perfect to avoid shame, blame and judgment. “I thought going into it that there were authentic people and inauthentic people. I did not find any evidence of that at all. What I found is authenticity is a practice and you choose it every day — sometimes every hour of every day.”
Can we practice being seen? Can we practice choosing to show up in our flawed selves and saying, “Here I am.” Do we even want to be authentic?
We would have to give up judging ourselves and everyone else. The path to authenticity also means that I will accept and be understanding towards your flaws as well as my own. It means not holding others to such “perfect” standards.
Where it gets even more complicated is my friends who love their perfect ways. They feel that for their profession for example, it requires a level of perfectionism. Like being an architect might, or a doctor, or a teacher, or a mother?
But striving for perfect goes against the human design. It’s a flawed concept that Western society pushes on us as a way to compete and compare with one another making us feel isolated and lonely. It actually disconnects us from others since no one can be perfect. This striving is only an illusion of some made-up potential. And I wonder if the people who achieve so called perfect feel lost once the glory is over?
Perfect isn’t truly relatable.
Perfect isn’t sustainable.
Perfect isn’t human.
So what to do?
Perhaps we have to let go of relationships that don’t support the authentic self? Perhaps we have to let go of the bloody high bars we set for ourselves and everyone else?
How about the idea of bravely showing up exactly who you are? This isn’t to say that we stop working on self-improvement. We don’t. But we decide to give ourselves and others large doses of compassion and understanding. We give others permission to show up authentically to us so that we may show up authentically to them. We “practice” showing up as the real self, flaws and all!
Awesome Amy! So well written and such wise words!
Once again a thought for me to chew. Oops, I mean to ponder. Yes, I do see myself not speaking up because I may not sound as bright as others. Every article is worth the time I spend reading it. Thanks for your insight. Elaine
What a lovely piece! Timely, too – I literally had a conversation with a friend just this morning about who I would be if I just gave myself a break instead of beating myself up for not living up to my ‘shoulds’ – and they are everywhere!!! The only thing I could think of in response was that I’d feel ‘lighter.’ How funny is that??! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts. Ellen
Amy as. Usual
A. Perfect piece for me to deconstruct
find my own meaning
you always trigger my brain in a way
which allows me to think outside the box
Before I met you
Everything was black or white
you have given me a whole new world of color
thank you for teaching
Me a whole new way of thinking
I know for sure
perfection is deffinatley not in my realm of thinking
Thank you I never thought I could be whole
without being perfect
Now I know I am perfect I am me