As long as I can remember, I have kept myself inside the lines. There would be activities I knew I truly enjoyed doing, and I didn’t want to just watch others have fun. But my fear of failing would take over, and I would stay on the sidelines.
This has been my reality up to this point in my life, and I know I am not alone in this. Whenever there was something that I knew I was bad at, or even if I wasn’t completely confident that I was above average at it, I wouldn’t do it. I’d just refuse. And the embarrassing part is, until this year, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that.
However, this year, I was forced to come to terms with the alarming conclusion that this was an extremely unhealthy way of living. When there were things that were out of my control, I didn’t know how to handle it, how to not label myself as a failure when a single thing went wrong. As Brené Brown wisely said, "Many people think of perfectionism as striving to be your best, but it is not about self-improvement; it's about earning approval and acceptance."
I had defined myself, subconsciously, by this ability to avoid doing anything that I wasn’t good at. I fed off of this unhealthy pride in being good at what I did and didn't realize I was participating in the damaging lifestyle of perfectionism.
What got me through this unsettling epiphany was the support from the amazing people around me. Even though having them pointing out my obsession with perfection initially felt like a personal attack, I came to realize that they were simply concerned. They saw the unhealthy way I viewed myself and the world around me and helped me move into a more balanced mindset.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s okay, you are far from alone! Here are some of the steps I’ve found effective to move yourself out of this destructive way of living:
1. Force yourself to do something you know you are bad at.
It is incredible how freeing it is to do something over and over again, be bad at it, and see that people love you anyways.
2. Force yourself to be okay with not being perfect at something you’re good at.
This is one of the hardest changes to make, but also one of the most important to aspire to. Baby steps are still steps, so start with small adjustments and feel the difference.
3. Force yourself to reach out and have people keep you accountable.
Sometimes you really need someone to help pull you out of the perfectionism pit- and seeing that people care can help give you more incentive to change, too.
I am far from being where I want to be in this lifestyle change, but I have been letting myself fail more in these last few months than I have let myself in a long time, and I couldn't be happier about it. I encourage all my fellow perfectionists out there to do the same- it is unbelievable how much the world opens up.