My name is Megan, and I am addicted to perfectionism.
In some ways I say that playfully, but in other ways it comes from a place of utter sincerity. Ever since I was a little girl I have struggled with being a perfectionist. Everything had to be perfect in order for things to be right. In order for ME to be or feel right.
I remember being in elementary school and not going out to play because I didn’t want to get grass on my shoes. In junior high I would write papers more than once if I had one mistake – and no, there weren’t computers back then. In high school it would be a bad day if my hair didn’t go just right, and if it was raining that was the end of the world. As a young professional I would pitch a fit if packets had mismatched paper clips or if the silent action pens for the bid sheets were all different. Still makes me cringe a little.
It’s easy to laugh at the ridiculousness of such things now, but they were real struggles for me. Dirty shoes, a mistake on a paper, a bad hair day, mismatched paper clips and pens all translated to whether or not I would be liked or accepted. Somehow those things represented me – all of me – and certainly my perception of self and how I believed others perceived me. Perfection meant that I was doing okay. Imperfection meant I failed somehow. And the perfection standard was always set by me, by what I convinced myself others were looking at, expecting, wanting, you name it.
For a long time I convinced myself that perfection was a highly sought out skill labeled as “attentive to detail.” Not true. Yes, being a perfectionist does often mean that my attention to detail is awesome but you can be detail-oriented and not be a perfectionist. How, you ask? It comes down to motivation. Are you into the details because that is a skill set, an eye you have, and a desire to do things well? Or, do the details have to be just right in order for others to like you, accept you, send praise and accolades your way? It is a very fine line, one I still walk carefully.
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that there is no freedom in perfection. In fact, it can absolutely steal your joy. It can ruin events because of expectations. It can ruin relationships because someone doesn’t live up to your perfectionistic standards. It can leave you very lonely and constantly questioning yourself. So, it is with great relief, great freedom that I can now say and believe that there is beauty in imperfection.
My mom is the one who taught me about the beauty of imperfection, not necessarily as it related to me but as it related to things I created. I am a cross stitcher; talk about pushing the perfection limits! EVERY cross stitch project I have ever done has had at least one mistake. Every single one. They NEVER were perfect and it used to drive me crazy… until my mom pointed out that the imperfections made each project special. My mistakes – which NO ONE would ever see or even know about – made the work my own, unique creation.
I love the Tower of Pisa because it is absolutely imperfect – IT LEANS – and yet it is a sought out destination for people all over the world. Why? Because it’s different. Because it’s one-of-a-kind. Because it’s a phenomenon. I promise you no one would ever know about the Tower of Pisa if it was standing perfectly straight.
If you are looking in the mirror and you see imperfection, then you are seeing beauty. If you are working on a school or work project and you missed an element that would have made it perfect, just remember as humans we are not capable of perfect. And for all you know whatever is missing might just be the reason you get an “A” or promotion.
I won’t pretend that letting go of perfect is easy – it’s not. Some days I fight against it, other days I give in to it, and then more often than not I don’t think about it. I seek the beauty in imperfect things, in the imperfect me. I actually enjoy myself, others, and experiences more when I can say “oh well” and be content with imperfect.
P.S. My husband just told me this isn’t a perfect blog, but he also said that’s what makes it perfect… the imperfections.
P.P.S. Are you like me and obsessing over the fact that the caption under the picture is not perfectly centered??? Oh well.