Confessions From A Recovering Perfectionist

Believe it or not, I haven’t always been this imperfect. It has taken me years and lots of therapy to learn to give myself a break once in a while. I hope this self-disclosing blog helps you to see the ridiculousness that comes with hustling for perfection.

1. Once in high school, I gave my boyfriend’s mom homemade peanut brittle for a Christmas gift. She later asked for the recipe. I didn’t want hers to turn out better than mine, so I lied about the ingredients to make sure my batches would always be the best! For repentance, here is a copy of the REAL recipe:

2. I almost dropped out of college my freshman year when I got my first ever “C” in World History. I convinced myself that I wasn’t “college material”. Didn’t matter that I got A’s in my other classes. And it didn’t stop there. I then had to get straight A’s at all costs so I could still graduate Summa Cum Laude. As if that proved I was smart! News flash: No one cares what grades I got in college.

3. If I wasn’t good at something, I didn’t even try. I am naturally athletic but I’ve only tried three sports in my entire life. Sadly I never stuck with one for more than a few years for fear of not being good enough. I was too afraid to make a mistake or let the team down. That is one of the regrets that I have most in life…wish I could go back in time and play those sports!

4. In college, I wrote papers to reflect what I thought my professors wanted to hear. Rarely did I ever write from a place of originality, my true beliefs or passions, except my “Fat Is Not a Four Letter Word” thesis. But I always got the “A”.

5. I literally starved myself and compulsively worked out at intense levels for years in the pursuit of trying to look different than how I was genetically designed.

Truth is, I’m messy and impulsive. I love to sleep and eat carbs. I don’t like to clean the house nor do laundry. I rarely make my bed. I really do like cookies and hamburgers (for years I convinced myself that I “didn’t like them”). And I have ideas that might actually conflict with those grading papers.

My belief that I was not good enough fueled my perfectionism and comparing myself to others served as evidence. Once I let go and accepted myself, I became much more at peace. I learned to recognize the universality in struggles. That failure wasn’t an inherent flaw in myself.

My spiritual growth and faith that God loves me as His own dear child, with an everlasting love, has brought deep peace. Working as a hospice social worker, helped me realize what really matters and how quickly life changes. I don’t want the exhausting and endless pursuit of proving my worth to trap me and hijack what really matters.

Being a working Mom pretty much forced me to let alot of things go. It was simply impossible to do it all! For once, I gave myself permission to focus on what really mattered. It wasn’t my dirty grout, the toilet bowl ring, the unmade beds, my wrinkled clothes, if I worked out that day, my fat thighs or unmowed lawn.

Sure, I still struggle to try new things unless I know I’m going to be perfect. But I also know that this is not the example I want to show my kids. I want them to try new things that interest them even if they aren’t very good at it, risk being foolish, make mistakes, get a “C”, let the team down and have the worst peanut brittle out there!

5 Replies to “Confessions From A Recovering Perfectionist”

  1. Brings up so much from the past. Hopefully we have all learned about expectations and trying to be the best and “finding out who we really are”. Great message. We’ll written. Love the pictures.

  2. Wow. I identify with this post so much. For me, I’m still tormented by the single Distinction I got at university when every other unit of my three year free was a High Distinction. I started learning the violin but because I wasn’t fantastic at it after six months I gave it up. I never play sports because I know I’m not good at them. I check and re-check everything (from a comment to an email) to make sure the spelling and grammar are correct. And unlike you, I’m still tormented by the desire for perfection. I need to reflect on this.

    1. It is a process…..I like Dr. Kristen Neff’s work on self-compassion! You seem like an amazing person and hopefully one day you can love and accept those special INFJ qualities that make you awesome without having to be perfect!

  3. What a great example you’re setting out for your kids. Being a perfectionist really takes up most, if not all, of our energy. I was raised in a very strict environment and my mom has learned to let go, but I haven’t yet, especially now I’m dealing with depression. Thank you for your insights ?

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