I don’t know about you, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve held myself to a standard that has felt totally unattainable. Growing up in my family, I got a lot of messages about perfection. Though I was often told I didn’t need to be perfect, I was typically chided when I wasn’t. “You just need to try you’re best.” But when my best wasn’t a perfect score on a test/project or I didn’t win the race, it was made clear that my “best” simply wasn’t good enough.
In April, I was able to take a little time off and just sit. A lot of that time, I spent sitting on the beach, thinking, reading and staring off into the distance where the water and the sky met. While I sat there I thought a lot about perfection and the pressure we put on ourselves in its pursuit.
The Perfect Trap.
While I thought about perfection, it occurred to me that one of the many reasons it is unattainable is because in so many instances, perfection in one space contradicts perfection in another space.
For example, if I perform “perfectly” at work, I have to sacrifice things outside of work. Family, friends, health, pets, etc. all have to come second to work in order for me to ‘do it all’ at work.
Not to mention all of the contradictions in our culture!! Appear to be super put together, but don’t work hard at it. Achieve work-life balance (by the way, I’m still not sure I fully get what that even means) and achieve lofty goals. Travel all the time but be good with money and get ahead in your career. Be open and vulnerable but don’t take too much space. “You can have it all!” (Ugh! Just typing that made something in my chest tighten.) You can be beautiful in any shape but be sure to use this filter so that people don’t leave comments about how ugly you are.
Not to mention the fact that perfect feels like a moving target. When I was young the physical ideal was pale and unhealthy skinny. Now I feel like the ideal is a six-pack AND curves.
It’s all maddening.
While sitting on the beach it occurred to me that we are each working with our personal definitions of perfection based what was valued (or lacking) in our homes growing up, what was valued by our mentors and the people we look up to even now as well as the people we want to be or become.
Wouldn’t it be great to examine our personal story of perfection and challenge it? How many of my definitions of perfections are in conflict with each other? Do those stories even align with my values?
What is your perfection?
What if you took control of YOUR definition of perfection and made it yours? As a thinking, feeling, breathing adult you can understand that each situation you face is going to require different things from you and the “best” outcome will be relative.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to work on having the life you want, call me and let’s get started!