I was first self-diagnosed with perfectionism even as far back as elementary school, and from there, it only got worse as I made my way through high school and college. This is in part because, growing up in a blue collar family, with neither parent having gone to college and one not graduating from high school, I always knew that success – in my eyes, perfection – was my ticket to living the American dream.
And so I’ve always worked hard to excel at everything I put my mind to. Getting a 4.0 so that I could land scholarships to pay for college? Done. Getting a job on Capitol Hill, where some turned up their noses at, gasp, a public university graduate? Done. Getting into grad school and pursuing my dream jobs in the wedding world? Done and done.
But the truth is that although I work hard in everything I do, and for everything I have, no matter what successes I might achieve, I always feel that I should be doing more, accomplishing more. In short, I always feel that my achievements just aren’t “perfect” or good enough. Got a B on a tough exam? I should have worked even harder to get an A. Flaked out on exercise class to relax with a magazine? Not the habit of someone successful.
But in the midst of all the combined elation and stress I’ve been going through lately, I've finally realized that I am so much harder on myself than I would ever be on anyone else. Try as I might, I am simply not superwoman, and it’s time to stop this vicious cycle once and for all. Because perfection is unattainable and ultimately leads to perpetual dissatisfaction. Excellence, on the other hand, is something I can strive for and take pride in every day, allowing myself to fully appreciate what I do well, while forgiving myself and learning from my mistakes when I fail.
Life is short, and it shouldn’t be viewed as a constant struggle toward unattainable standards, especially when it’s yourself you’re struggling with. So, if you’re like me, a perfectionist, or even just too hard on yourself at times, I encourage you to stop what you’re doing every now and then, and as cheesy as it sounds, just take a moment to be proud. Proud of who you are, and proud of what you’ve done, no matter how imperfect or insignificant it may at times seem. Do it today, and do it often.
From now on, I promise that I will, too.
(Photo Credit: Personal Library)