Dear self-confessed perfectionist,
I know how you feel. It’s been another day where you said the wrong thing at work. Another moment where you read too much into a friend’s comment. One more dropped ball. A forgotten item on your to-do list.
Your mind is going a million miles a minute about all the things you didn’t get right. And all the things you should have done better.
It’s not your fault, you know. You’ve been hard-wired this way ever since you first learned how to color inside the lines. And over time, you have become your very worst critic.
You overthink almost everything. You feel too deeply. Things affect you too strongly. You’re the best friend they’ll ever dream to have. Yet you’re your very worst enemy.
Cut yourself some slack. Or take a chill pill as my Mom likes to say.
If today looks like the thousands of days still ahead of your perfectly imperfect life, then rest assured, you will continue to get it wrong.
That’s right. Consider your bubble burst. Your mind is blown, I know.
Your self-imposed duty to never disappoint, to give it your best shot, is wreaking havoc with your peace. You are killing yourself slowly. Ever so slowly.
So here’s what I want you to mull over in that pretty head of yours. Because, friend, I’m writing this as much to myself as I am to you.
1). Perfectionism is overrated but most importantly, it’s suffocating. If you let it, perfectionism will gradually erode your inner peace and rob you of your joy.
2). Think twice about what a “perfect” life looks like. I know it’s been drilled into our heads since the days where we learned to color inside the lines that the “American dream” was the be all and end all, but having that white picket-fence life is by no means indicative of a fulfilling life.
3). Accept that you are an imperfect person loved and accepted by a perfect God. (Big relief, isn’t it?) “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.
4). If you’re smart, your mistakes will help shape you not define you. And to those who demand they will never make the same mistake twice, to you I say, “Have you never practiced a sport or learned to play an instrument?” Some of us will make more mistakes than others to get to the finish line. Just promise me that you’ll keep going, OK?
5). Perfection keeps you from becoming the best version of yourself. Striving for improvement and perfection are not the same thing but perfection will trick you, every single time, into thinking that achieving excellence is the only way for you to become truly content with you. Resist this temptation.
6). Reaching for perfection prevents you from being in the moment. Work on being present, even if things aren’t going to plan. As Shauna Niequist says, it’s all about being present over perfect.
7). Perfection creates unhelpful expectations about what life should be. Some of us have conjured up immaculate visions of the perfect marriage, the perfect job or even the perfect Saturday—images that only exist on your Pinterest board. The reality is, nothing in our lives can ever be 100% perfect. Only in your wildest dreams.
It’s difficult in the digital age to come to grips with this, however, often what people project on social media is a misrepresentation of reality. Because sometimes the truth isn’t very glamorous or “Insta-worthy”. But maybe that’s the beauty of life, all the piles of dirty dishes, missed flight connections and awkward conversations with friends. These moments teach us valuable nuggets of wisdom and make us grittier people.
8). You are more inspiring and wonderful of a person because of your imperfections, not in spite of them.
9. You are enough. Put your resume down. There’s no need to prove yourself to others around your nor give them 10 reasons why you’d make an awesome [fill in the blank].
10). Love covers a multitude of wrongs. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins,” 1 Peter 4:8.
1 Peter 4:8 is probably one of my favorite verses in the Bible, because it describes what I think is the anchor for every life-bringing and healthy relationship. Mark my words, you and I will never get it 100% right and we shouldn’t be expected to.
But that’s where grace comes in.
Jesus shows it to us and now we have the opportunity to extend it to others.
Popping the perfectionism bubble may take a long time as we re-wire our mind to accept the truth that we are enough. But it’s one that our generation certainly needs to pop.
Jesus never demanded perfection. Instead He asked for obedience—to lay down all of our messy human baggage, to pick up our cross and simply follow Him.
God wants to use us to love and impact a very broken world. But before He can do that, we need to come to the realization that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made—with all our human imperfections.
Thank the good Lord. His perfect love covers all my imperfections.