Perfection-schism

I’m a natural-porn Type-A personality. With that comes a predisposition to perfectionism. I am also the oldest child, making me take on the stereotypical characteristic of responsibility. As a result, I pressured myself growing up to continually do better. No matter how well I did, there was always room for improvement. And if I ever slipped up, I knew I deserved punishment. I was that kid who grounded herself for sneaking a piece of Halloween candy before dinner.

As comical as some stories of my anal tendencies might be, they made my life pretty complicated. Constantly feeling like I wasn’t measuring up to the high standards I had set for myselfย was frustrating. I felt like I had to be good at everything I did, from school to work to friendships to church involvement. I would beat myself up over a less-than-stellar grade on a school assignment or even the slightest criticism from someone, no matter how well-intentioned.

Without even realizing it, I would shy away from activities that I am not particularly gifted in. I would gravitate toward the kitchen to clean up the night’s mess instead of mingling with strangers. I would make an excuse to leave early so I didn’t have to awkwardly dance, feeling like everyone’s eyes were on me. I truly didn’t enjoy anything that I wasn’t good at, so I just wouldn’t do those things.

I’m a bit OCD, too, so I like to have things clean. But guess what? Things only stay clean so long. Dishes pile up. Laundry overflows the hamper. Games don’t get put away. Trying to stay on top of all of these tedious tasks is just that- tedious.

I would get really stressed out trying to balance my time between all of my commitments, feeling like the “perfect” person would be good at all of them, and would be good at balancing all of them. I worked hard to do well in all of my classes, going over the same assignments over and over and over again until I felt that they were just right.

As you can probably imagine, living life that way was exhausting. So I’m done with it. I am divorcing my perfectionism. I am embracing the fact that only God is perfect. No matter how hard I try, I will never attain perfection, and I’m becoming more and more okay with that. Sure, I still want to do well, but I’m realizing it’s okay to do things I’m no good at (like bowling, playing Frisbee, volleyball, or dancing), and it’s even okay to look foolish while doing it. Do you know why? Because it’s in those moments that grace is seen in our lives. If I only ever do what I’m good at, how will I learn? How will I grow? How will I be reminded that I can’t do this life on my own? And maybe, just maybe, I’ll discover that letting loose, engaging in those activities that I have avoided for so long for fear of looking foolish, is actually kind of fun. : )

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