To Be Perfect, or Not to Be Perfect

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I had a goal. More like 50 goals simultaneously, and it was hard to ever focus on one thing because I wanted all 50 of them to have been done about 3 months ago.

I tried to be perfect. To have the perfect planning system, the perfectly organized home and garage, the perfectly checked off to-do list, and perfectly emptied out email inbox.

I still aspire to all these things, just not quite so perfectly. And now for my own personal satisfaction, rather than to prove to others that it can be done.

Releasing the need to become perfect has created space for me to be me. Which is so nice.

It is liberating to allow myself to continue to discover what I am good at and what I am not good at, and to accept those things the way they are.

Perfectionists Beware

I love reading self-help books. I love doing the exercises in them and applying the things I like to my own life. I really love finding ways to do things better and to be better. But no single self-help book is going to 100% apply to 100% of people.

As much of a gift as the internet it, it can also be a bad place for a perfectionist. It can be crippling to see the perfect printables on Etsy, the perfect wedding ideas on Pinterest, the perfect food on Instagram.

Then in the 3-D world, things aren’t quite as cute and awesome. Sometimes they are, but never always.

Life is imperfect, and the elusive standard of perfection and awesomeness that sometimes gets portrayed online and even in self-help books is not always helpful. Sometimes it can be a bit harmful.

I wanted to be perfect, but being me feels so much more free. We can look at the pictures on the internet and read the self-help books for inspiration, but then we must choose. To either compare ourselves to the perceived perfection, or to feel good about where we are and to see that information as simply an accessory to our lives. We can choose to use it for good, or let it go. But not as a reason to feel bad about ourselves. Because that’s no fun.

Many self-help books offer unique ideas and unique perspectives on how to approach and attempt to solve everyday life issues. Sometimes their advice applies, other times it’s a little bit more nuanced than that. Same goes for the infinite cutesy printables and photos.

The Small Slice, Best Version

We don’t know what someone else’s life is really like unless we know them really well in real life. Otherwise, we simply do not know the whole truth. We likely get a small slice and best version of the truth. And to compare our own imperfect lives to those inflated snippets of reality is not an act of self-kindness.

Now when I start to think about how I should be doing something differently in my life based on the way I have seen someone else do it, or based on my age compared to their age, I stop.

No, we don’t all need to be a raw vegans just because someone else has made a career out of it, or have the perfectly decorated and organized home because a new book or blog post was authored by someone who does (or lets us believe they do).

There will always be things to strive for and areas of our lives to improve. Maybe some of us figure out the zen of a few areas of life, and others figure out a few others, and then we share ideas and help each other attempt to figure it out along the way.

I might turn to an Etsy shop for a cute printable calendar, or Pinterest for a cute idea for a party theme, or a self-help book on how to be more organized, but then I will (try to) leave it at that and return to being me. Imperfectly.

Do you ever find yourself feeling less than awesome because of someone else’s online representation of their awesomeness? How do you tame that? Please share your thoughts!

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  1. Aliquo Nov 3, 4:08 am

    I think I need to fetch some snacks and a sleeping bag and camp out on this site for the rest of the day! Your posts are just what I’ve been needing to read. I’m always comparing myself to other women my age and feeling like I have to catch up or be as impressive, successful, beautiful as they are when deep down I know I just need to focus on being the best version of myself. And you’re right, we don’t know what’s really going on in other people’s lives, sometimes people put on a front that everything is perfect when really they’re as lost and dissatisfied as the next person.

    1. anniehurley Nov 10, 12:06 pm

      Wow thank you! It is nice to be understood 🙂 We are all unique and sometimes we all need a reminder to celebrate our differences.


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