Chasing perfection is pointless yet many of us find ourselves doing it our whole lives.
We filter our pictures. We only talk of accomplishments. We can’t wait to show off new assets. The perception of perfection is so ingrained in our culture. If I’m honest, I’ve fallen into the trap a time or two. My introspection has allowed me to uncover this truth and find the roots.
On a micro-scale I’ve had pride in people saying things like “you’re so meticulous” or praising the fact that I am highly organized and asking for tips. While some of that can be attributed to my struggles with high-functioning anxiety, I have discovered other roots that trigger this. If you refer back to previous blog Clueless you’ll learn that I haven’t always “fit in” for a number of reasons. I’ve always been quirky and naturally drawn to new and different things. I rarely followed what was trendy whether I couldn’t afford to or I just wasn’t interested. Also, I was very artistically and scholastically gifted, so as you can imagine Rubik’s cubes and knitting in grade school didn’t always spark the best conversations with peers. For that reason I stuck out, and many of the same people that I longed to have some similarity to, took my standing out as arrogance and being a snob. It was hurtful. It led to a cycle of me desperately trying to fit it, being rejected, shrinking myself, and then ultimately more bullying for being timid. For many years it seemed as if since I appeared to be chasing perfection, the goal for my peers was to obsess over finding more imperfections. For example:
“You’re not THAT smart, look, you messed up this.”
As I got older, the taunts became worst. My intelligence wrongfully put me on the same pedestal as some adults and even those who I thought were sent to mentor me, got in on the picking as if to bring my confidence down a notch:
“You’re not that perfect, I heard you did this.”
All I could think to myself was “not again.”
My defense then until now was to try even harder. I became hyper-committed to hiding my flaws or being so diligent on fixing them that my timelines were unhealthy and not conducive to real growth. I held myself to impossible standards just to be even harder on myself for not meeting them. I struggled to open up to people on a personal basis. I convinced myself I had to BE someone else to be liked. The cycle was vicious. What wasn’t chasing perfection originally eventually became that just to please others.
What was the breaking point?
Life gives us moments where it grants us a pause. (Begin the SoulCare series here.) Sometimes through tragedy; sometimes through solitude. Post-college, many graduates experience great mental challenges as they navigate finding a career (let alone the pressures of handling one) losing friends, starting families, etc. Much of these big life changes I experienced since leaving college. The journey is tough but I’ve learned that in solitude you learn so much about yourself because you cut out all outside influences. It’s hard to hear your own thoughts when you have insecurities, anxiety, and trauma echoing ALONG with so many others’ voices that ultimately do not know your path. It is when you sit down one-on-one with your ugliness that you begin to love yourself through it. You discover what YOU do and don’t like. You change what you can and you accept what you can’t. You reflect and learn that truly no matter what you do in this world, you can’t please everyone. You learn to please yourself first and let everything else, even relationships, fall in place.
At the root of chasing perfection for many is no true contentment in life (for me, not fully accepting my differences) and social influences. We all deserve to grow and reach our goals, but at a healthy pace. You pace will look different than your peers. Ask yourself, “why are you rushing your life to chase perfection?”
perfection - a place we will never be.
Be You. 🦋