I've spent the greater part of my life shooting for the stars and then becoming really frustrated and bitter when my bow and arrow shot short. I've wrestled with perfection like any girl, but I've let my ways and the pressure of the world weigh me down. While my goal is not to blog solely about perfectionism, I've got to address the basics first. I admit that I'm a perfectionist. I'm not really sure where the story begins, if I was born this way, or if my little egocentric, narcissistic self grew into believing that things had to be perfect. I assume it's a combination of both factors. Either way, recently, something finally clicked where I realized two things: that I am certainly a perfectionist to the point where it's a problem, and thankfully, that things don't have to stay this way.
Defining it as a problem
When I started to understand my perfectionistic tendencies as behavior that was interfering with my happiness and well-being, I began the road to change. Before I knew better and understood my faulty ways, I used to use blame as a source of coping, blaming myself and others unfairly. I would think things like This outfit doesn't look good because I'm terrible at putting clothes together! or The house is a mess because you messed up my perfection! Obviously, these statements are a little exaggerated, but not by much. I used to think there had to be a reason for why things were not perfect. Sometimes there is a reason, but most of the time, it's just life! But blaming myself only made me dislike myself and put myself down instead of build myself up. And blaming others only caused grief and distance in important relationships. Even if the blame wasn't verbalized, I still maintained the mindset in my head that something or someone was out to ruin my perfect ways. How selfish and ugly is that?
However, by defining perfectionism as a problem, I was able to recognize my behavior better and realize there's not always someone to blame, and even if something is technically someone else's fault - I had to learn to let it go anyway. Ultimately, realizing that perfection is a problem has made me more aware of just how imperfect things actually are and that they're actually intended to be that way. Some days, I still feel like everything is working against me, but other days I can let the imperfects in with acceptance.
I am not made to be perfect
Although I've done study on my own, my church and Bible study has been the best source of my understanding of perfection. The most important thing that has changed my viewpoint is Christ. The most important fact I've learned recently is that only Christ is perfect. It was pretty hard for me to wrap my head around that there is only one perfect person who set foot on this earth, and his name is Jesus. This is obviously a pretty big subject that I could devote multiple blog posts to, but the basic idea is that perfection is Godly, not humanly. I like to search my Bible app for good verses, and when I search for "perfection" or "perfect" there is not one verse that comes up that says humanity or any human is perfect - besides Jesus. Things like God's love, God's law, Jesus, the salvation He provides, and faith are perfect. Not humans, outfits, houses, relationships, or feelings.
While this idea is still penetrating the depths of my heart, I do understand that I am not supposed to be or made to be perfect here on earth. And when I honestly realize that - wait a minute! - I'm off the hook from trying to be perfect? That's the moment when I can finally breathe and take rest.
Growing Every Day
Okay, so I'm not an expert on any of this. I'm simply excited that I've found some truth in my life that I can cling to - truth that has changed my ways and truly given me joy. I can be happy even when my $5 Starbucks drink wasn't made right (thank goodness they'll remake it for free, right?). I can be happy when the size 5 doesn't even button but the size 7 is huge (oh, cheap clothes). I can rejoice in the fact that no one ever said I had to be perfect, pretend to be perfect, or die trying. I actually get to be me. Imperfectly, undoubtedly me.
But I still have so much to learn. There are still days when I crack under the pressure of invisible society. There are still days when I wish my hair, nails, outfit, diet, house, and mood could all be perfect the whole day through (oh, and if the stars could be aligned too, that would be nice). But life isn't a fairy tale where every dream comes true. I'm glad I woke up from the dream that perfection lured me into believing could be reality. Each day is another step toward accepting imperfections in myself and my surrounds and embracing the things that not only can't change, but that I was never meant to change in the first place.
Do you struggle with perfectionistic tendencies? How do you deal with them?