Monday, July 12, 2010

Pursuing perfection - an examination of my struggle

This post is a little different to most because I am literally mid-journey. So my sister said something yesterday about my prior intolerance for flaws (apparently I'm quite tolerant now) which reminded me of a comment a friend made about me being a perfectionist.

Now f you ask me I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist. I would say that I want to be the best version of me and I would tell you that my house is not nearly clean or organised enough, the standard of the work I produce could be higher, I could study more, eat better, work out.. generally I could give you a mammoth list of things that I could totally do better if I were more disciplined. Reading that back makes me go "eek that is totally what a perfectionist would say"! So for the sake of self-discovery I am going to own being a perfectionist and work with it.

As I accept this my body naturally squirms as I try to let this new found realty settle, I shrug my shoulders a few times and wiggle around in my chair some more. If I take a moment to stop and examine my body and the physical reaction I am having to this my stomach feels unsettled, I have light chills (that I wouldn't even notice if I wasn't looking), my face is pulling various hmm faces but my torso is engaged, I am leaning forward and my head is to the side taking in this realisation. I lean on my chin on my hand hmm yes I think this is correct I am a perfectionist. Enough about the physical reaction what does this mean in my world?

If I am honest this means that I am hard on myself, not mean just hard. I look at my life and see various examples of where I didn't try hard enough, where I could have done more or better. If I look at the past I would say that my perfectionism has led to me seeking approval from others because I don't get it from myself. It has led me to expecting efforts beyond what is humanly possible from myself and pushing through until my body crashes and refuses to get out of bed for days at a time. At first glance I would say that this hasn't impacted my relationships but that would be a lie.

When I really look at my past and consider the impact my perfectionist tendencies had on my relationships.. I would say that while I didn't consciously expect perfection from others, I did expect that I would be perfect in those relationships and that the relationships themselves would be perfect. Imagine if someone you loved was more worried about things being perfect than being present in your actual relationship.. I did that. I can honestly say that there have been moments when I was too busy looking for perfection in the world to see what was right in front of me..

I think there are many of us who pursue perfection without realising that in doing so we can miss out on enjoying what's right in front of us. I pray that we can let go of being perfect and focus instead on being who we were created to be, I pray that we can open our eyes to see beauty in the imperfect and that we can love ourselves and each other in all of our humanity. Be gentle with yourselves and each other.

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