Hi, My name is Kala. I’m addicted to perfection.
They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So here I am, calling my perfectionism a problem. Let’s talk about it, shall we? I want to get to the root of this. And in digging deeper, I hope to somehow free myself of the chains I have allowed myself to live captive to, thinking I can somehow do things perfectly.
Let’s first start by defining “perfectionism”….
If you answered “NO” to that list, you’re dismissed. You have a fantastic handle on life and live in perfect balance. However, if scored anywhere from a 1, or (like me) a 10 for 10, stick around.
I can relate on embarrassing levels to that whole list; “all-or-nothing” could be my middle name. However, I didn’t realize some of those behaviors had ties to perfection. I just thought I was passionate, committed and a hard worker….who hated having flaws.
Somewhere in my early twenties, I started doing things well. I learned I was good at baking, I was crafty, I could handle (and enjoyed) speaking in front of people, and I had many passions and talents that I was living out well. After years of brushing curls and wondering why I was rocking the electrocuted look, my hair FINALLY started doing good things. I was comfortably becoming a women, and enjoying who that was. However, the reaction from those around me caused a unquenchable thirst to continue walking in the straight line of praises, compliments, and attention for things done well. The beast of perfection began to rear it’s ugly head, and my image became of utmost importance. I became my harshest critic, and allowed little room for error in my life.
It’s about identity, isn’t it? It’s about acceptance. It’s about wanting a pretty, shiny surface to be on display for the world around to see.
Perfectionism always sets the bar just out of reach.
That’s why women battle with their weight, right?
Is it because if we don’t lose that nagging 10 pounds, we’re afraid people won’t be able to stand the sight of us? Uh…No! It’s because we’ve bought into distorted and unrealistic images of “beauty” and chase physical perfection. We set standards for ourselves that not even the men in our life would agree with. And while we “claim” it’s for others, it’s for ourselves. We have tied self-worth into self-image, and we set ourselves up for failure.
Perfectionism is short on grace and high on demands.
The need to do things right, or perfectly, all the time is stifling; it’s constrictive and it leaves no room for growth. It bulldozes the journey in a stampede towards the finish line. It makes an idol of the “prize” at the end and disregards what it takes to get there.
Perfectionism’s partner in crime is comparison, constantly changing the method of measurement.
Someone will always do it better. Someone else will always make more money. Someone else will always look thinner than you in a little, black dress. Someone else will be more compassionate and understanding. Someone else will be more organized and more timely. Someone else will win “father of the year”…an award that doesn’t actually exist. As long as other people are the measuring stick for success, you can always find someone who surpasses you. Always.
Perfectionism is terrified of exposure.
It’s incredibly wonderful to speak insecurities out loud. It almost frees you of them. To admit shortcomings, and allow yourself the grace to be less than the best is far more empowering than setting targets a mile high.
Perfectionism has a death grip on control.
“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” said the person in knee deep, trudging towards perfection. Life is about the journey, the process; who we are now and who we are becoming. God is less interested in things done perfectly–what we have a “handle on”–and far more interested in where our heart is at in the midst of it all.
Hear me: I am not saying not to work hard, chase diligence, do things right and invest time in the process. What I am saying is to know when to say when. That every project doesn’t need to end with a blue ribbon and praise from the people around you. Make friends with the concept of “good” as not everything needs to be “great.”
“Why suit up if you’re just gonna strike out?”
The fear of being anything less than perfect can keep you from playing the game. It can rob, steal, and destroy your experiences, and prevent you from being who you were created to be. In thinking “I’m not as good as they are, so why try?”, you’re missing it. Because you weren’t created to live someone else’s life, just your own.
Beth Moore has some fantastic thoughts that I will continue mulling over, and encourage you to do the same…
“Spending ourselves for something infinitely greater still fans our parched souls with the God-given need to matter, but relieves us of the relentless pain of being the “It” person at the center of it.
To live for the greatness of God is to live the great life. Oh, I know we’ve heard it before, but wheat if it finally clicked? What if we awakened to what a dream-killer perfectionism is? To how pitifully small and unworthy a goal of personal greatness is?
We were meant for so much more.”