I Tried to Be Perfect For Thirty Years and It Was Boring
For as long as I can remember I have tried to be perfect. Have the perfect body, the perfect job, be the perfect friend, daughter, sister, the perfect student, the perfect colleague, the perfect clothes, and the perfect house. I was always trying to say the right things or do the right things so I would fit in. Made sure I didn’t say too much or too little because God forbid I said something that wasn’t perfect. God forbid, I (GASP!) upset someone. I had boxes in my mind for everything and all my boxes had perfect wrapping paper and were tied with the most beautiful bow. If it didn’t fit in my box, I wasn’t doing it.
My body box looked like depriving myself of things I wanted to eat during the day and then hiding in bed at night eating chocolate bars and jars of peanut butter because I didn’t want anybody to see me eating things I wasn’t “supposed” to. My social box looked like an extreme level of people-pleasing constantly wondering what I should say so that I would be liked and avoiding what I thought I shouldn’t say in fear that I might upset someone and would no longer have friends. Not having any friends did NOT fit inside my box. My career box looked like working long nights and weekends in places where I regularly felt disconnected from what I was doing. I did it for the fancy job and fancy paycheck because that is what fit into my perfect box. The list goes on, but I think you get the idea. I spent nearly thirty years living this way. Thirty years trying to be perfect and feeling more disconnected from myself than ever before. After all, how could I feel connected to myself when I wasn’t being myself.
Then a few years ago I was fed up with myself and it triggered an ah-ha moment. I burst into my coaches office and as I sat on the couch I found myself almost shouting these words at her, “TRYING TO BE PERFECT IS SOOO BORING!!!!” Outside of being boring, I also realized that it was costing me a lot. It was costing me deep authentic connections with myself and others, it was extinguishing my spirit, it was limiting my creativity and ultimately costing me true happiness. As my coach and I continued talking she asked me, “What do you want to do about it?” This is what I did:
I stopped worrying about what people thought about me. Don’t get me wrong, I still fall into people pleasing and trying to get it right from time to time. Sometimes, it happens more often than I’d like to admit but I started to become hyper-aware of the times when I was people pleasing and I’d challenge myself to say and do the hard things knowing that it could end in someone being angry with me. I had to detach from the outcome.
I started believing that I was perfect exactly the way that I am. If I already believed that I was perfect then there wasn’t anything for me to do anymore, I could be myself. I could show up authentically, which sometimes meant twerking in my sisters living room. I gave myself space to have FUN and my relationships deepened as a result.
I allowed myself to get messy. I let go of the pressure and gave myself permission to try things out that I normally wouldn’t. I’d allow myself to leave a dish in the sink when I went to bed at night, to stumble on my words during a difficult conversation, and to have the courage when friends asked how I was doing to say, “you know, I’m going through something that feels really challenging right now”. This allowed me to experience love for the wholeness of who I am, not just during the happy times.
I still work on this everyday, but to use the analogy from Brene Brown I give myself permission to live in the arena and there is so much more freedom in that. If any of this message resonates with you, I challenge you to live outside the box for a week and see how it affects your spirit, joy and happiness!
Big love! Xx