I’ve struggled with my perfectionism for as long as I can remember, starting from when I was a little girl. I always held extremely high expectations for myself, and had an unwavering fear of failure. Growing up, I had a reputation for being the “golden child.” I had straight A’s in school, was liked by teachers, had many friends, and was a natural born leader. I excelled in high school; I was our class president for three years, captain of my Varsity softball team, and National Honor Society president my senior year of high school. Sounds like a perfect life, right? However, I also struggled with many aspects of myself that I did not let others know about, including my obsessive need to be perfect, and to succeed.
From an early age on, I remember feeling unworthy and depressed over the silliest things if I did not reach my own expectations. I still remember how devastated I was when I messed up in the first round of the 7th grade spelling bee; how I felt as if I failed my teachers and my parents. I remember feeling embarrassed if I earned a “B” on a test or paper instead of an A. It absolutely killed me when I realized that I was not as naturally athletic as the other girls on my softball team, and never made All Conference. I specifically remember my senior year when I was in the running for a national scholarship and lost the title to a friend of mine. I was so destroyed that I bawled the whole way home and remember feeling like I didn’t even want to live anymore because I couldn’t amount to anything.
Things really became difficult when I went to college. Transitioning to a large campus where no one knew me and my successes was hard. I worked hard to build my reputation up in high school, and all of a sudden it was like I was a nobody. I didn’t know how to make myself stand out in the crowd. I struggled with classes because they were much more difficult than in high school, and received the first D in my life. I based my worth upon what guys thought of me and was depressed that all the guys seemed more interested in my friends instead of me. Prior to college I was always a healthy girl, but with all of the stress, my health deteriorated. One night I was rushed to the hospital with an ulcer. In addition, that year I gained 15 pounds and developed a severe skin rash breakout on my face. I was depressed and unhappy. I lived my life doing everything I possibly could to be liked and to excel, and measured my happiness according to my success and popularity.
Ultimately, perfectionism has never served me.
I do not think that I will truly ever overcome perfectionism. I believe that perfectionism is, rather, something that I must learn to cope with for the rest of my life. I was greatly inspired by one of my best blogging friends, Molly from Style Miss Molly, and her latest post on her own struggle with perfectionism. Her post encouraged me to look at some of my greatest flaws, and do a little soul-searching on what matters most in life.
I will admit that it pains me to type out my personal “flaws.” I am a huge believer in positive self-talk, so why should I analyze all of the things that I do not like about myself? However, I believe that sometimes within the messy, we find raw beauty.
25 of my current greatest flaws //
1.) I worry so much that people will get mad at me when I say “no” to their demands that it gives me incredible anxiety, sometimes in the form of a migraine.
2.) I constantly compare my blog to other fashion blogs and wonder why my blog has not grown as fast as theirs, or gets as many “likes” on Instagram as their posts.
3.) I have anxiety over social media. Sometimes after I post something, I delete it right way in fear of what others may think.
4.) I get deeply insecure about the freckles, the birthmark, and the chicken pock scar on my face in that sometimes I crop my head out of my blog photos.
5.) I sometimes think that I talk too much and will literally bite my tongue when having a conversation with other people.
6.) I sometimes compare my ability to be an effective counselor to my other classmates’ abilities within my counseling grad program.
7.) If I am not busy, I feel guilty, like I am not doing enough to be successful.
8.) I will compare myself to where others are at in their current stage of life, and wish that I was in that stage. i.e. marriage, having babies, buying a house, etc.
9.) I feel like a failure over the littlest things, such as not completing my to-do list for the day.
10.) I feel guilty over the fact that I don’t like being with people 24/7. I am an introvert probably more than I am an extrovert.
11.) I am always trying to lose “just 7 lbs.”
12.) I constantly worry what others think about time.
13.) I struggle with feelings of negativity so much, which is why I always try to blog about positivity.
14.) I struggle asking for help and often feel like a burden to others when I do.
15.) I have a temper that flares up easily.
16.) After having a venting session with a friend, I often wish I hadn’t done so. I struggle with feelings of guilt and shame.
17.) I feel like I can’t make a decision for myself without consulting others about what they would do in my position.
18.) I am extremely impatient.
19.) I have this idea that people are always judging me, even when they may not be.
20.) I am clumsy and have been teased about this, which has made me even more insecure.
21.) I have anxiety about the littlest things that wouldn’t normally bother other people.
22.) I have to live in a clutter-free zone otherwise I can’t function. I get obsessive about it.
23.) I struggle with letting go of grudges and forgiving after people hurt me.
24.) I struggle with conflict and being upfront with people when I’m upset.
25.) I never feel quite as successful as I wish to be.
After writing down all of the things that I do not like about myself, I feel as if a pound of bricks has collapsed my chest. And even now, as I’m typing this, I worry about hitting the “publish” button and letting the world know about all of my imperfections. However, writing has always been an incredible coping mechanism for me to work through my feelings, and I am reminded of why I blog; to be advocate for my readers to love themselves as they are, despite their flaws. So what better way to face my fear than to click “publish”?
The hard question is, how do we accept our imperfections? How do we overcome these obsessive, perfection-seeking, unrealistic thoughts? I may never know the secret, but I’ll share what has helped me cope with my own perfectionism in the past.
1.) Affirm Yourself
I am a huge believer in the power of affirmations. So much, in fact, that I say certain things aloud to myself daily. Writing this post of 25 Daily Affirmations was incredibly therapeutic for me, as I believe will be for you. Sometimes, just saying positive things to yourself out loud empowers and boosts your confidence. Changing your inner dialogue changes those intrusive thoughts.
At least for me, sorting out those messy, ill-tempered thoughts on paper is helpful. Writing can provide a form of clarity and peacefulness that you may have not felt before. Journaling is wonderful because it is just for you. No one else has to read it, and your journal does not have to be perfect.
3.) Focus on Your Strengths
I’m a strengths-based person. Instead of focusing on the negative, try to focus on the positive. What do you LOVE about yourself? What brings you joy? What are you proud of? What strengths do you bring to the world?
4.) Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Of course, with my counseling background, I’m a huge advocate for therapy, no matter where you are at in your life. Many people think that counseling is only for people who have big problems. Not true. I, myself, see a counselor from time to time. In some other cases, asking for help can be as simple as venting to a friend. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need it, because people love you and want to help.
Prior to my counseling program, I failed to realize the importance of taking care of myself, until I started making time for things that I loved. I immediately saw how much it had an overall effect on my self-esteem and confidence levels. Do yourself a favor and take care of yourself. Whether that is in the form of exercising, meditating, or spending time with family, it will help you to feel better and more at peace with yourself.
Thank you so much for letting me be vulnerable with you. Perfectionism is an on-going battle, but one that we can beat by learning appropriate coping skills. What does your battle with perfectionism look like? I’d love to hear more about the sorts of things you struggle with in your life, and how you cope with these intrusive thoughts.
“You were born to be real, not to be perfect.”
If you need more encouragement, be sure to stop by my Facebook and Instagram, where I regularly update my readers with inspirational bits.
This gorgeous photography is by Kate from KLEM Studios. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and her blog!