I’ve come a long way in the self-love department. When people meet me, I don’t come off as insecure. You wouldn’t know that I have loathed my imperfections since I was a kid. The high standards I hold myself to aren’t obvious. I’m a secret perfectionist though, and I’m rethinking my tendencies. I’m going to embrace being imperfect, and adopt “Progress not perfection” as my mantra.
I didn’t really know how hard I was on myself until my best friend told me so as if it was a fact. She added that it must be tough for my hub, since I probably have equally high expectations with him.
Talk about a blind spot. I ran this by him and he concurred. I’m not only this way—you wouldn’t meet me and think, “Type A.” But in the day in, day out, I look for ways to improve. I strive, which is great. But it is stifling to live with someone who constantly notices what needs fixing.
My friend is right. I’ve even gotten into the habit of pooh-poohing things that my husband suggests. He recently asked me not to stop.
I’ve also been told to leave off the last part. So instead of answering, “Work is great, but I’m not there yet.”, stop before the but. I’m teaching our daughter the same lesson. She’s either inherited my gene, or she’s modeling what she sees.
An imperfect role-model
Fortunately, the more I get to know myself through genuine self-care, I’m realizing that the best thing I can do is practice opening the door to my imperfect self and inviting her in for tea or a beer. For the sake of my relational health, and also so that I can enjoy life more, I’m learning how to make peace with this striving-for-better part of myself.
I am surrendering my secret notions that perfection matters. I’m joining the choir that is singing the chorus of “Progress not perfection.”
The sooner I make peace with the reality of who I am, the more readily I face my fears and pain. It’s liberating to invite self-doubt into the room instead of willing her away. The irony of facing my fears is that the whole lead up of “Am I good enough to put this out there?” is far more painful than just doing it anyway.
I’m glad I’m doing this work now so that I don’t have to pass along my inner critic to my kids. I’m sure there will be other material that makes it through the psychic sieve. Such is the state of parenthood. But that’s okay.
I trust that the girls will find their way more easily if I get my inner burdens in check.
To all of you out there holding yourselves to stressfully high standards, who may be doing the same for your kids, I invite you to try on the mantra: Progress not perfection. It’s important to move forward and grow, invite in challenges and trust that you’ll weather them just fine. But the pull of perfection is better surrendered.
Dear you, amazingly imperfect little striver: You are good enough.
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