Screw being perfect.

I have come to realize that I have high standards and expectations…. for myself.  You know, perfectionist high standards.

When I was little, I use to ask my mom, “What am I good at?” and she would answer the way every mother should “You are good at everything sweetie”.  However, I wanted specifics.  My sister excelled at art and my brother at sports, but I took her comment to be a nice way of saying “I can’t really think of anything specific”.  Looking back, I was good at so many things.  However, in my mind, I just wasn’t good enough.

While playing volleyball in middle school, I was good at serving, like win the game for the whole team good at serving.  {Not good enough though}  For me success would have been being recruited at a young age for the Olympic team.  {I’m not exaggerating}  That was my gauge of success.  I couldn’t let myself celebrate the win.  If it’s not top notch, it’s not good enough.  In hind sight, I can see the ridiculousness of this thought process two ways:

1. I lived in a small town and recruiters didn’t visit middle school volleyball games.

2. I should have enjoyed my success.

However, my success limited me.  To the point, that I stopped playing volleyball.  If I wasn’t going to be recruited for the Olympic team {which in my 12 year old head = real success} then what was the point.  Just being good in a small town wasn’t good enough for me.

I have come to realize that the same thought process has transcended into my adult life.  I have been racking my brain for a hobby lately.  Something to identify with personally, outside of work, family and friends.  Something that is just mine.  It has dawned on me though, the reason I can’t come up with anything is because I expect myself to be perfect and already excel at my new hobby.

I can’t except that I might have to learn something.  I might have to fail.  It’s limiting me.  And it’s exhausting.  It’s not letting me do anything because I can’t be instantly perfect at it.

{Seriously. Seriously???}

What the fuck? What will happen if I’m not good?  Will the world stop spinning if I mess up eight couches before I master upholstery?  Will people think less of me if I suck at canning?  Am I less of a person because the cake I’ve decorated isn’t “Martha” perfect?  I need to let myself except that I must learn.  I can’t only attempt what I already know I am capable of.  I must explore the unknown, fail, learn, fail again but stick with what I have committed to.  If I actually want to excel I must understand that instant perfection is not only unreasonable but it’s not fair to myself.  So now, baby steps, I need to find something that I want to learn, know nothing about and {gasp!} might fail at.  I need one activity where being perfect is not the goal- but instead personal growth is the goal.

I have always said that I want to write a children’s book, but I haven’t tried because my expectation is a Newbery Medal.   It’s time for me to start small, learn, fail, try again, succeed and grow.  I am finally going to pursue writing children’s book and see what happens.  My measure of success has to be personal growth and not distinguished honors.  I need to write this book for myself and my girls…. and that has to good enough.  Who knows, ending the cycle of perfectionism might just get me where I want to be.


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