Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Perfection

We all have our vices. Some drink. Some smoke. Me? I’m a perfectionist.

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)

13 comments:

  1. Great post!! {I am proud of myself!} there I said it!! :D Thanks !

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really needed to hear this! Something has been weighing heavy on my heart and it was so nice to hear this today. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, lady, I feel your pain. I'm so much harder on myself than I am on others, and I always feel like I'm not doing enough. This is a great post. I am literally drowning at work right now preparing for my first solo jury trial and attempting to manage the rest of my case load at the same time. I think the time has come to ask for help. Thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm a perfectionist as well. This makes it really hard to let go control for my school musicals. I've started making myself let go two weeks before our performance date - if it's not done then, it's not getting done, and we don't need it. By the time the performance rolls around, I've convinced myself that it is fine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I used to be a hardcore perfectionist. I've only started to "chill out" a bit after finishing graduate school. It's something that I still work on regularly though... :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. what a great post :)
    you're right. when we're TOO hard on ourselves constantly, it starts to be unhealthy.

    you're an inspiring person with all that you've achieved. you should definitely be proud :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. great post. i agree, stopping to take in what you've done is a good way to keep things in perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You are so right! Many times in our effort to achieve, we forget what we have already accomplished

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a great post Heather and I love that you share yourself with us. Sometimes I do get down on myself for not trying harder instead of looking at all the great things Im doing. But I am proud of myself! :) Have a wonderful day. Be proud! <3

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for sharing this lovely post and for reminding everyone of what should be obvious. Perfection is an often over-rated term, not to mention a relative concept and overused as an adjective. Your inadequate B may have seemed perfect to another student and another person's perfect life may not be what I aspire for. Striving to be the best one can be isn't a bad thing - it's when we attach results to our efforts, instead of being proud of the latter - that perfection becomes a problem. We live in a result driven world where it's not enough that we're diligent, dedicated, passionate and hard working, but it has to show up in the outcome for it to be considered 'Perfect'. My 2 cents -'Perfection' is the pride we feel after a job well done, regardless of whether it's acknowledged with an A or not. Thanks again for stirring this great topic.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for your sweet comment today!!

    Perfectionism is hard to deal with.... I too sometimes feel that no matter how busy I am ... I can alwasy do more. It's not always the case. Life isn't perfect, i don't expect others to be perect, so why be so hard on myself?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm guilty of this and am trying to be less hard on myself when I can't get everything done. This is the perfect message! I will definitely try to be more proud of myself. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Heather: you are an inspiration to so many people, including me. I admire all you've done and you should be extremely proud of everything you've done!

    ReplyDelete