Why is it, as humans, we feel this need to always be perfect? Never allowing anyone to see our imperfections and flaws. Who taught us that? Where did it come from? For me, it started VERY early. I was 8 years old and my parents took me to a book fair. Vendors sat behind tables stacked with books inside an old school’s gymnasium. I was in heavan. As I walked up and down the aisles picking up books I wanted to read I spied a vendor selling journals, and on display was this very cool Star Wars journal with Yoda on the front cover. I wanted it! I asked for it! I got it! I could not be more thrilled and I was so excited to get it home and start writing. When we arrive back at our house I rushed to my room, pulled out a pencil, and started scribbling. No one has ever told me I have pretty handwriting, so after a few sentences, I realized that my handwriting was terrible and for whatever reason, I decided I had ruined the page. So I tore it out. This started a chain reaction that eventually lead to the destruction of this beautiful journal that I had craved so much. Tearing out the page scared the journal and you could tell a page had been torn out, so I tried fixing it, and with each fix the “issue” in my mind got worse and worse. Eventually, I gave up and the journal found its way into the trash. I was disappointed, upset, and heartbroken that I was not able to write in this journal to these perfecting standards that I had somehow adopted as young as 8 years old. This was my first step, albeit I didn’t know it, toward the idea of fighting perfectionism.
Growing up I was taught that there was a certain order to how you lived. You went to High School, then College, for me I was expected to go on a mission for the Mormon church (that was non-negotiable), then I would return home, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, retire and then die. I did almost none of those things.
I did go to High School but never finished college. Didn’t see the point in it. I did go on a mission for the Mormon church but had a false start on the first try, got sent home, and a year later went out again, only to get sent home early 18 months later for medical reasons. Got married to my first wife in 2005 (mistake) and got divorced 9 years later. In between, I could never decide what I wanted to do for my profession. I tried being a paramedic, safety professional, sales and marketing professional, multi-level marketing, gym owner, back to sales, and now photography. Got married again but to a different person (not a mistake), and somehow never managed to own a home inside all that time. My life has been anything but perfect. At least according to how I was raised and the expectations I was supposed to live up to.
Now does that mean I messed up? Sometimes…sure, who doesn’t? Overall… absolutely not! Life is not about living perfectly. We have to fail in order to learn. If we never color outside the lines we will only learn what’s inside the lines. There is a whole universe outside those imaginary lines, and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with living a life others don’t agree with or even understand.
The bottom line is this…I think the best way to fight perfectionism is by living an imperfect life, because when we learn that living an imperfect life is to live perfectly…all of us will be a lot happier!