For most of my life I felt a strong need to be perfect. I wanted to please other people and wanted them to value me. My mother was always worried about “what the neighbors would think” and she inadvertently instilled in me the need to live up to the standards of other people. When I attempted to rebel I was made to feel guilty or wrong somehow. As a result, I spent years worrying about what other people would think of me.
When I moved out on my own, I was reluctant to allow anyone to come into my home unless it was spotless. Even so, the whole time they were there I would fret over whether or not they would see something out of place, or a bit of dust I had missed in the corner. I always felt I was being judged (although that was far from true). It certainly wasn’t an enjoyable way to spend time with friends.
When I went to work, I was terrified of making a mistake. When I did, I felt humiliated and wanted to try and explain it away in defense of myself. I was sometimes argumentative and difficult, all because I was worried that I wasn’t good enough unless I was perfect. The funny thing is, I was always very forgiving of others. Somehow, I just couldn’t be forgiving of myself.
One day about 20+ years ago, after the ending of a disastrous relationship, I made up my mind to do everything I could to heal myself. I devoted my time to learning anything and everything I could that would lead me to peace and healing. Strangely, one of the first lessons I learned was how very difficult it is to try to be perfect. It takes an enormous amount of energy and is a huge drain on the spirit.
The truth is, we are human and we are not meant to be perfect. It is our flaws that make us beautiful. It is our vulnerabilities that allow us to connect deeply with each other. It is our differences that make us the unique individuals that we are. In embracing and honoring our not so perfect selves we are set free to share with the world our beautiful gifts and talents. We are relieved of the burden of stress caused by worrying about what everything else thinks. By accepting our imperfectness, we allow ourselves to truly live life, to be present, to enjoy, and to revel in the realization that by being imperfect we are perfect.
I never mastered the art of being perfect. And I’m so glad I didn’t. In letting go of the need to please everyone else and worrying about what everyone else thought, I learned to like me. I learned to embrace my imperfectness and to laugh at my mistakes. I found peace in the fact that I can be who I am without fear of judgment. And I learned that other people’s opinions are theirs and theirs alone and have nothing to do with me.
So, I ask you: Where in your life are you trying to be perfect? And what would happen if you could let go and be who you really are?