Ditch your desire to be perfect

desire-to-be-perfect

Ditch your desire to be perfect

Not. Good. Enough.


If my life had a theme song, this would be the title. I’m not exactly sure where my desire to be   perfect came from, but it was here, for as long as I can remember.

Actually, I’m not entirely sure if it’s so much of a desire to be perfect, as it is a paralyzing fear of failure. It doesn’t matter if I’m cooking, cleaning, working, blogging, exercising- I’ve always felt the need for everything to go and be…. perfect. I’m not talking about the drive and need to excel- because there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m talking about that constant need to control the outcome of every possible situation.

Perfectionism is often linked to depression and anxiety. I don’t need to read any research papers that prove this, because I’ve suffered from both. Right now though, I am in a wonderful, blissful place in my life. I finally understand what it means for things to “fall into place.”

I like to think of myself as a work in progress. I still have things to work on- like my short temper (meditation definitely helps with that!) but one thing that I’m slowly letting go off, is perfectionism.

I’ve learned to let go and surrender.

DON’T WAIT

… for that perfect moment. If you wait, it’ll never come. Trust me on this one. I think that a lot us of spend majority of our time waiting. I hear people say, all the time: “I just can’t wait to get a better job“,  “I will be happy when I get a bigger house” or “I will be happy when I’ll meet the one“, “I will start once I’m ready.” You can spend your entire life, saying these things. You can spend the rest of your life waiting to start living.

When I closed down my first blog and created Thirteen Thoughts, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to have nice photos, a good layout and great content. I was kind of frustrated when I first started getting into photography and discovered just how much I suck at it. I didn’t know how to tweak my blog design and was completely clueless when it came to using WordPress. I barely posted any content and kept telling myself “I’ll just wait until I get a hang of this camera” or “I’ll just wait until I get some studio lights“. Truth is, the only way for me to actually learn something, was to start. If I hadn’t put that perfectionistic thinking behind, I’d miss out on finding something that I’m passionate about, something that brings a lot of joy into my life.

FIND YOUR TRIBE…

I don’t go “out” too often anymore, but occasionally my best friend will convince me to out for drinks after work. She knows that I am a total control freak, (the night has to be planned down to the last detail) so she’ll send me the name of the place she’s taking me to and, if applicable, she’ll attach a website and a link to yelp reviews. I’m being totally serious. This girl knows that I need to know things (like… does the place have food? Do they have an outdoor bar? Where can I park? Is there a fee for parking? What’s the dress code? What time do they close?). She’s completely different than me, but she gets me. She knows how to put me at ease, so that when I go out I don’t have to worry about stupid shit like whether or not I have enough quarters to park my car (well my night could be ruined if I was forced to get some change). I can just let go of my need to control, and enjoy the moment and have fun instead. People like her, you keep around.

I am slowly learning to let go of my perfectionism and I make fun of myself all the time. I have a very particular sense of humor. My favorite jokes are “dad jokes” or the ones that are really silly and moderately entertaining  (….like, “what do you call a fish with no eye?”). Think about the least amusing joke you could say at a big party- I say those all the time. Most of the time, I’m the only one laughing. But guess what? When I’m surrounded by my people, I don’t care whether or not they’re laughing. I feel free to be myself and I let go of that need to be perfect.

Point is, you can’t waste your time on negative people or those who hold you to impossibly high standards. Surround yourself with people who make you feel at ease. Be around those who don’t make you feel like you have to be perfect all the time and like you for who you are, not what you do.

affirmations

SURRENDER

Perfectionists can feel a strong need to always be in control of their emotions. I never understood where my social anxiety came from, but I’m starting to think that it’s linked to that constant need to be perfect at all times. I never made a lot of friends in college for a very simple reason: I didn’t want to. I was working full-time so I just didn’t have the time. When I went to class, it was just to listen to the lecture, take notes and basically get my money’s worth. The only classmates I ever talked to were my lab partners. Then, during my last year in college I was invited to a conference in Boston, along with three other students from my year, to present our senior theses. Instead of feeling accomplished and excited, I started panicking. Being the control freak that I am, I took it upon myself to book our hotel rooms (even though there were three of us girls, I needed to make sure that I’ll have a separate room all to myself) and arrange for all of us to meet at the train station.

When we finally got there, I just wanted to go to my hotel room and sit there until the conference started the next day. I wanted to allow myself as much time to prepare as possible, even though I had my entire research memorized. Somehow, we all ended up going out to dinner, we had some drinks and I actually ended up enjoying myself. By the time the weekend was over, I felt like I was spending time with a bunch of old friends. We had some deep conversations, we laughed and joked and just had a good time. During our last night, one of the girls said to me “you know, I never would’ve guessed that you’re so cool and fun” and then she added “when I first saw you in class I though you were a total bitch” … “sorry” she added when I looked at her, amused.

Truth is, I get that all the time. People always think I’m mean, sad, angry or just bitchy. Until I open my mouth and start reciting corny jokes. I guess that’s just my face?

That weekend was a little life-changing for me (don’t worry though, I still cried and had a mini panic attack when I noticed that my professor, who was in charge of printing out my posters, made a mistake. This happened literally 5 minutes before I was up). It was during that weekend when realized that if I just let go of that need to control the outcome of every single situation, I can actually have fun.

Since then, I’ve learned to surrender. I’m not afraid of looking silly or embarrassing myself. I don’t need anyone’s approval or acceptance. The more I put myself in situations that are a bit out of my comfort zone, where I know I won’t be in total control, the more free I’m starting to feel.

STOP THE ALL-OR-NOTHING ATTITUDE

For perfectionists, there is no in-between. You’re either getting that 100% or you’re a complete failure. When I was in school, I couldn’t stand others doing better than me. I wasn’t happy with a 97% I wanted that 100% (105%, whenever possible). It’s sort of like when you start working out, or maybe you want to change your eating habits. You don’t work out for a day or two (because…. you know.. life) and you start feeling crappy. Or, you’ve been eating clean for a few days but you have a moment of weakness and end up eating junk food, and you think to yourself “well… now that I broke my diet, it makes no sense to continue it, I’ll just start again next week“. This is an all-or-nothing attitude, where you aren’t happy with just 80% or 90%. This is why perfectionists have a hard time acknowledging their own success- they always want to be and do better. And that’s when the anxiety comes in- you spend more time worrying about failing than you do focusing on what it is you’re trying to accomplish. The anxiety and the worry gets in your way and makes you miserable. It can literally suck the happiness out of your life.

I think that perfectionism is also something that a lot of people use as an excuse. I know I have- I’ve used it as an excuse for ages. Few years ago, I posted a little note on my bathroom mirror that says “who are you?“. Every day, as I brush my teeth, I think to myself, “am I going to make any excuses today?”  I try not to live in fear anymore. Fear of failure, fear of not being good enough.

Perfectionism can be a way of avoiding rejection and criticism from others or even from yourself. As much as you can try and control every aspect of your life, you can’t. You can’t always control or predict the outcome. Can you imagine how boring and dull your life would be, if you knew exactly what’s around the corner?

  • Wanderlust Girl (kyia belle)

    Sometimes I feel as is whatever it is I’m doing, I know I can do better in some way, even if I’m trying my hardest. I also get that feeling even when nothing appears to be wrong with what I’m doing. It’s intimidation of the online world, as well as pressure to be like other bloggers/ people. I’ve actually done a post with the idea of reminding yourself that it’s okay to “fail”, and that as long as you pick yourself up, things will be okay (Search: Why We Shouldn’t Compare Ourselves To Social Media’s Idea Of Perfection & “Grey Days” And Not Giving Up). Just remember you CAN do it! Loving the post xxx

    http://wanderlustgirl-kb.blogspot.ca/

  • Such a great thoughtful post! Will definitely help many of your readers like myself :)
    Kathy x
    http://www.alongcamekathy.blogspot.co.nz

  • I’m 100% like this! I literally want every single thing to be perfect and I get anxious and over worked when I feel like I’m under perfroming, I always even want to be more than perfect it’s so hard to convince yourself getting 95% instead of 100% is still great. Loved reading your experience! x

    – Eternalleigh.blogspot.com

  • I love this post from the deepest depths of my heart. You hit everything so spot on. I’m wired very much the same way. I’ve been working towards being easier on myself and going with the flow of things, but it isn’t always easy. I laughed at the portion where you talked about your best friend because my best friend does the same for me! I am the same way! I start to feel very sickly if things aren’t planned out. Loved this post so much that I added it to stumbleupon! :)
    xx Nichole
    Fall Upon Glamour

    • Thank you so much Nichole!! Haha yes, I can’t stand it when things don’t go according to my plan, but I’m trying to learn how to let go of that need to control everything :) Thank you for visiting!

  • I am totally, totally with you. Perfectionism left me with terrible anxiety in my teens. It can be so hard to let go and remember it’s ok to be just ok! We all need a bit more of this post!

    Beekeyper – Latest – Places to stay on Nosy Be

  • Janet

    I so love this, Paula. You really have a way of expressing yourself in a way that so many can identify with. I have had many of the same perfectionism issues and they don’t go away as we get older and mature. I hear women say that the are finally comfortable with themselves. I really don’t know. Self acceptance is very important and perhaps when we grasp that we can give up the high standards we place on ourselves.

    Keep up the great posts!

    Jane

    • Thank you Janet! So happy that you liked this post. I definitely feel more comfortable as I get older, but I don’t know if it’s simply because I’m older, or because I’ve learned to recognize those patterns and habits that make me feel anxious. Taking care of myself, taking time out and knowing when to stop- it all helps. Although I still find it difficult to just relax and let go at times- I always feel so guilty when not doing anything productive haha ;) I think it’s all work in progress. It’s great to know that I’m not the only girl who struggles with this!

  • The Sunday Mode

    It’s funny because I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a while but I’ve avoided it because I can’t seem to put my thoughts into words and sentences that actually make sense. You’ve written this so well though Paula, to the point where I’m starting to think that we’re twins because I can relate to so much of what you’re saying. As much as I want to be ‘that’ spontaneous person I always want to know absolutely everything about where I’m going and what I’m doing and all of that is crippling at times.

    Sometimes I just need to ditch my plans and permanent to do lists and go with the flow, you know? Although, easier said than done!

    http://www.thesundaymode.blogspot.com.au

    • It literally took me two weeks to write this post. I just couldn’t find a way to express my feelings. Every time I sat down to write it, my mind would just go blank. When writing some of these posts, I feel like I need the idea to simmer a little, before I can actually put it in writing.

      I am so happy that you enjoyed this post Julia, it wasn’t easy to write and I was so happy when I finally published it. It’s definitely easier said than done, but sometimes, I literally force myself into situations that I know will be uncomfortable and it helps me out a little when I realize that things aren’t as bad as I expected them to be.

  • Loved reading this so different to any blog post i’ve seen and really made me think!!

    Emily http://www.emilyy.co.uk

  • Great post Paula! Thanks for sharing such a personal side with us all. I know it must have taken a lot for you to really take the time and to share such details, but I know it will help a lot of us who suffer from depression/anxiety and other mental health problems especially in relation with being a perfectionist too. It’s much more easier said than done to change one’s whole state of mind, especially something so heavy and life hindering as being a perfectionist, so I really commend you and am in awe of you for having the strength and ability to do so! And I really understand your need to know how things are beforehand, I have a really bad anxiety disorder w/linked agoraphobia so you describing all that really is something I can understand! I’m hoping someday I can stop being a perfectionist but it’s so engrained in my personality and who I am that I fear that I’ll never really stop being one, along with other mental health things that I have going on. But posts like these help to keep a positive attitude! Hugs to you and thanks for a lovely post, beautiful :)

    xoxo
    http://www.hellohimawari.com

    • Thank you Mika! This post wasn’t easy to write, but I’m happy I finally published it. You know, one thing that I love about blogging the most, is that I get to connect with people who share similar experiences. For the longest time ever, I thought that I was the only one who suffers from anxiety and I felt like no one could understand me. Like, when I tell someone “I’m feeling so anxious” they’d say “so stop feeling like that” haha wish it was that easy!!

      It is easier said than done, always. But I also think that it’s so important to remember that we’re all a work in progress. I find that meditation really helps to calm me down and clear my head. I really hope that one day I’ll be able to get rid of my anxiety for good. Hope the same for you Mika!! Thank you for such kind words, sending love!

  • I always ask my boyfriend to tell me when to stop – I don’t trust myself as for me nothing is ever good enough, he is way more sober about it, which I guess makes him my perfectionism coach ;)

    • I ask my husband to do the same, but I never listen to him when he tells me to relax or take a break. I’m very, VERY stubborn haha :)

  • Beautifully written Paula! after reading this I can definitely say you are my twin sister. I am a control freak too. For example, If I have something planned and for some reason it doesn’t turn out the way I wanted it to be, then whoa I go back there (thanks to my short tempered nature) but I am learning to let go of things and enjoy every moment (Thanks to my mediatation therapy every morning)

    • Thank you Priyanka! I’m happy that you can relate to this post (well… not really “happy”- I’d much rather you didn’t feel like you need to control everything :) ). I love meditation too and I also have a short temper haha :) We might be twin sisters after all! :)

  • Rebecca Fletcher

    This is such a great post. I definitely needed to read this right now! Xx

    http://www.beautylifebecca.blogspot.co.uk

  • I love the concept of this! What you wrote really brought me to tears. Thanks forthis post :)♥

    http://www.blossomikebana.com

  • I feel like you and I are very alike. The way you describe your perfectionism and need to always know and plan everything into the tiniest details? I can relate.

  • Great post! There’s no such thing as perfection <3
    http://www.MARINASAYS.com

  • Gosh this is an amazing post! I’m still going through this process and struggle quite a lot but I’m trying my best not to be perfect all of the time. It’s just so exhausting!

    Lizzie Bee // mysticthorn.com

  • I used to be perfectionist but then I realised that I can’t be perfect at everything and don’t want to feel miserable because of that and let go of that feeling. It wasn’t easy but much needed and I feel much more happier now. x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

    • Yes, it’s not easy at all and it takes some work, but it’s definitely possible to learn to let go of that need to perfect at all times. xx

  • I looooove your blogpost! I can relate to it so easily! x

    http://www.serenbird.com/

  • Tiffany Tales

    Amazing post! I totally get where you’re coming from with the need to know everything. I’m exactly the same.

    Tiffany Tales – A British Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  • Emma

    Amazing! Love this post! xx

    https://dreamingoffithavenue.wordpress.com

  • I get this so well, because I struggle with so many similar issues. I’ve gotten so much better than how I used to be, but I t think the struggle to be perfect will always be in the back of my mind. This post is amazing! So inspirational and it definitely helps to take in your points and adapt them to my life… You never fail to make me feel a bit better when I read your posts lovely! x

    Beauty with charm

  • This was such a lovely read! I suffer with high anxiety levels a large amount of the time, so thanks for the encouragement!

    Hope you have a lovely week!

    xo, mikéla / simplydavelyn.com

  • Marlene Guevara

    I really enjoyed reading this! I kept reading and just thinking to myself “OMG that is so true!” I’m that way, and like you, I also started off a business one day after waiting for years to start it because I didn’t have everything I wanted. I’m learning as I go now! :)

    • Thank you Marlene! Go you for starting off a business after years of waiting, that’s awesome!! I love that. :)

  • Wonderful blog post and so inspiring for your readers. Love that you are down to earth, literally felt like I was chatting to you! x

    withlovefromamber.blogspot.co.uk

  • Very lovely post to read. I’m a fellow anxiety sufferer and completely get the whole idea of needing to be perfect! I’ve found the more you do and get on with, the easier it gets. My anxiety isn’t half as bad as it was a couple of years ago. I used to always be waiting for things to get better, and then I stopped and just got on with my life and they got better on their own so I can totally relate :)

    Just Little Things

    • Thanks Gemma! Yes, mine is MUCH better now, too. I’d never think think that I’d be able to cope with it. So happy to know that your anxiety is better these days!

  • Thank you for sharing these tips!

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

  • This post really hit home… sometimes people think I’m difficult or cold but really I’m anxious esp. when I’m out of my comfort zone – it’s a real struggle to just relax and go with the flow.

    A lot of this is very relatable! Keep up the good work on your blog :)

    – Lubna | The Digital Review

    • Haha yes, I can’t tell you how many people told me they thought I was really mean and bitchy before they got to know me. Thanks so much Lubna!

  • I hate to admit I just went through the “ill get to it when..” trap #oops. Thanks for sharing this, so helpful!!

    have a great holiday weekend!!
    xox | Tess
    Sequins are the New Black

  • Samileen

    There is so much I can relate to you. My husband always say I might come across as a total snob, and people might think of me as a air headed person. Because I’m so uncomfortable around new people and always am conscious about making a fool of myself infront of them, that I always have a straight face.
    I remember one of my aunt’s saying to one of our relative that I look very reserved and self absorbed types but once I’m comfortable around people I’m a totally different person haha, I was happy yet conscious about being such a freak lol..

    Sam || Beautydetour

  • Lipstick LupusMommy

    A close friend and I had a talk about this many years ago. She’s the more organized perfectionist like you where I fall into the category I start things and don’t finish because it didn’t turn out to my expectations. I never thought of myself as a perfectionist but the more we shared our anxieties it made sense. Society puts that pressure on us now more than ever. I completely agree about surrounding yourself around positive people, for me that is my church family and friends helping me focus on God and knowing how loved I am. Love this post!

    • Oh definitely, perfectionism shows in different ways! I think that surrounding yourself with positive people really is essential :) So glad you liked this post, thank you for visiting!

  • Rebecca Goldsack Smith

    I’m starting my blog for about the 5th time because I get frustrated and give up when I don’t immediately get hundreds of followers and my photos don’t turn out perfectly ;)

    I’ve learned that just gritting my teeth and writing *something* makes me feel a whole lot better…I am trying to let go of perfectionism but as you say- it’s hard! xxx