I woke this morning thinking about how the word perfect has changed for me over the years. When I was younger, I used to list Perfectionist as my weakness when asked my strengths and weaknesses for interviews. I believed that it was actually a strength for me, but could say that it made me overly driven to get things perfect ,and what employer doesn't want a driven employee? In more recent years, I realized that it has been my greatest weakness my whole life.
I joke with people and tell them I am a recovering perfectionist. Many just look at me, but my fellow perfectionists out there smile and wonder what the freedom feels like. For me perfectionism was a glass box I lived in, it robbed me of so many fun experiences and left me just looking on. You see, I wouldn't try anything new unless I knew that I would be great at it. I refused to be less than perfect. I wanted to look perfect, act perfect, get straight As in every class, win every job I interviewed for and the list went on.
However, put other things on the table like ballet, or a new art form or paddle boarding or skiing and I was out. I was too tired, or too busy or my fibromyalgia hurt too much. You see, I always had an excuse ready if there was a chance I might fail or look foolish. It don't think this was ever a conscious thought for me until more recent years, but definitely my subconscious perfectionist was always trying to prove I was enough and perfect was included in being enough.
In my 30s, exhausted from trying to be perfect, I decided I wanted to be enough in my subconscious programming. When I was breaking free from this glass box, I put a women on a paddle board in the center of my vision board. She represented trying new things, paddling into the future and adventure.
I spent years robbing myself of the joy of playing just for fun, not competing. The year I put her on my board, I took a hammer and broke free of that glass box of perfectionism, and I did paddle board. I fell in the water and laughed and tried again. It was delightful, relaxing and so fun! I think my life is like that, all the things I worried about failing at and held back from, I now just give them a whirl. What's the worst thing that can happen? I fall? I know now that I can get back up that I am way tougher than I ever thought. I don't want to sit on the sidelines of life, watching and judging and wishing I could play. I want to jump in there. In fact, I roller skated for the first time in about 30 years a few weeks ago thanks to a friend encouraging me.
Do you need a little encouragement to break free? Is there some thing you long to try but are afraid you will fail? There is no time like the present to just get out there and try it! Hey, I was a little afraid to start a blog, to share my thoughts with strangers and maybe even more with those closest to me, but here I am typing away, enjoying myself. And, here you are reading it thinking of something you want to try. Let go of your perfectionism and self-judgement; I guarantee you are your harshest critic. Most people want to see you succeed, and if they don't, it's probably because they are trapped in their own glass box still competing with you in their mind.