I’ve always worn my lack of perfectionism like a badge of honor. I smugly assumed I had figured out a secret of adulthood by embracing imperfection.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard or strive for 100 percent in some areas; it just means that I know it’s not realistic to reach for some vague bar that has been set for “life” in the age of Pinterest — that pinnacle of living that encompasses everything from having your kids dressed in the right clothing to preparing homemade, healthy meals each day to maintaining an impeccable physical appearance to excelling at a high-powered career while somehow keeping your house clean.
Nope. That’s not me.
I’m cool with imperfect.
At least, I thought I was.
Then last week, I found myself in a particularly ugly spiral of negative self-talk. I was in the midst of grappling with why I simply could not do anything right ever when I realized, I may not be a self-professed perfectionist, but that’s only because I know I can’t reach that bar.
But perfection is still my bar.
I expect 100 percent across the board knowing it’s simply not possible then I beat myself up for not being able to do it. And when I inevitably fail (which I knew I would), I get even more down on myself and throw the so-called baby out with the bathwater.
Sometimes, I don’t even try. (What’s the point? Failure is inevitable.)
It becomes an excuse to avoid taking chances and putting myself out there. (Why bother, really?)
And a byproduct of this perfection-seeking habit is ultimately, I don’t believe in myself.
The one thing I’ve been trying to live up to these years is impossible, and I knew that. And yet, I’ve let this attitude of “Life: You’re Doing it Wrong,” get to me.
It was, dare I say, an epiphany. Last week, I deliberately set the bar where that I knew (thought? hoped?) I could reach it and maybe hang for awhile. I cut my daily to-do list down from about 20 items to three or four. I focused on racking up small wins (I did all my training runs! I wrote an article every day! I ran an errand I’d been putting off for 3 weeks! I managed to put dinner on the table a few times!) so I could bank them later as a reminder that I am capable even though I will fall behind sometimes, even when the goal isn’t perfection.
And I reminded myself that this is about progress.
Progress, not perfection.