For most of my life, I struggled with the idea of perfectionism. From my looks, to my body, my GPA, and my business, nothing was ever good enough. It came from a place of me never feeling good enough. I strived for perfection so much so that I would end up sabotaging myself inadvertently. I used perfection as my clutch, my safety net. If I wasn’t perfect at something automatically, I just wouldn’t do it. If I couldn’t make a perfect decision, I just wouldn’t make one.
I put off so many things in my life out of fear of not making the right decision. Even when it came to my divorce I procrastinated and made sure I tried every last thing even when I knew it was dead for years, just so that I could make the perfect decision. Then, when I finally filed for a divorce, I even made sure we used a mediator and were friendly to each other to make it the most loving and agreeable divorce in history. When I was younger, I had friends tell me that they didn’t want to do bad things in front of me because they didn’t want to let me down because I was such a good girl.
Growing up, I learned quickly that being perfect would equal love. If I stayed out of the way and did the right thing, I wouldn’t cause more issues for my mom as she had enough on her plate already. I tried to be a good girl and do the right thing. I took care of other people’s needs before my own and learned to put myself second. I grew up with a sister who was 14 months older than me and I thought the world of her. She was smart, talented, skinny, and beautiful. All the things I wished I could be at the time. I created my own story about myself that I wasn’t as smart as her and never saw myself as talented. I was a bit chubby and a work in progress as far as my looks went in my eyes. I clung to this story as it kept me safe in my family role.
I accepted being second best for a while until I realized I was just as awesome as everyone else I compared myself to and strived my hardest to change it. I changed the things I didn’t like about myself. I worked out, got skinny, and stayed in shape but nothing was ever good enough. I still saw the chubby little girl every time I looked at myself in the mirror. I got a perfect 4.0 in college and was still unimpressed with myself and justified it by saying the classes must’ve been easy or that the professor was an easy grader. I straightened my hair, got laser treatments on my skin, and cosmetic surgery all to be perfect.
But perfect never happened because I was still the little girl struggling with being imperfect and not good enough inside no matter what I did to change it on the outside. Intimate relationships could never live up to my expectations and I projected a lot of what I felt about myself onto my partner. They weren’t cool enough, fit enough, or good looking enough. It was because I wasn’t enough that nobody would ever be good enough for me. I even chose my professions, first as a teacher and then a life coach, both viewed as being perfect and having all of the answers. Clinging to perfection was literally ruining my life.
My perfectionism was even coming through while I was having fun and this is when I said enough is enough!
I knew I was struggling with being perfect for a while and everyone else around me clearly knew it before me. But it all really came to a head when I started my business and hit my breaking point. When my clients weren’t just showing up right away, I wanted to give up. If I am not automatically perfect at something, then I want to abandon it. The irony in all of this though is that if something comes easy to me, I get bored with it. Once I saw this affecting my ability to push my limits and really put myself out there for my dreams and passions, I knew I had a huge block and my little girl needed some real talk and unconditional love. I worked hard at this for years and I made great strides but I still had a huge block in place. I use the analogy that I was like an egg that was cracked open but there was still that white layer blocking me from truly being released from that shell. But this all changed one day not too long ago.
I gave my little girl what she needed in an unexpected way while playing tennis with my boyfriend one day. I was immediately getting annoyed and frustrated because he was beating me and I stunk in my eyes. Same scenario as being a little girl not feeling good enough. It was my first time playing tennis and my boyfriend was experienced. He was patiently teaching me and I was having fun until the score became 30-Love, which means I had zero for all those tennis newbies like myself. “Love” isn’t something to go after in tennis apparently. As soon as I started doing terribly, I wasn’t trying as hard and wanted to give up and stop playing. It was in that moment that I said, “Oh my God! I’m doing it again! This is the same thing as my business and everything else in my life! If I’m not excelling right away I want to give up because it brings me back to not feeling good enough and if I give up and don’t try, I don’t have to have that feeling of not enough anymore!”
This was the biggest ah-ha moment. Just as I realized this, my boyfriend asked to have a talk with me about why I was getting annoyed. He knows my patterns and my issues with perfection and never being good enough that I struggle with. I knew what the talk was going to be about. But, this time I realized it before anyone else could even tell me. My perfectionism and feelings of not being good enough were even coming through while I was having fun and this is when I said enough is enough! In that moment, I did the following:
That day, tennis was metaphoric for all the beliefs that I was ready to abandon. They were holding me back and keeping me playing small. In this game of tennis with love equating to a loss, I found my greatest win of unconditional love for my Self. That day, I learned to unconditionally love imperfectly perfect me and it is a lesson that changed my life.
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