I’ve spent a good deal of my life trying to be the best at everything I do – at school, in sports, in my work – in every part of my life. While this drive for perfection has led to the achievement of many goals, it has also contributed to much tension and stress in my life. When your worth is attached to an unattainable ideal, not only are you continually frustrated, you miss opportunities assuming you can’t do them perfectly. I’ve also wasted far too much time and energy trying to complete projects perfectly rather than embrace the beauty of “good enough.”
I know that the seeds of perfectionism were planted in my response to trauma. With little control during the formative years of my life, I unknowingly tried to be perfect at everything as a way of controlling the uncontrollable in order to feel safe.
Today, I am learning to find the good side of my addiction to perfection. I see the strength that comes in daily disciplines, routines, and efforts to improve. I know that my temperament responds well to discipline and structure. And rather than striving for perfection, I’m content with making progress. As I let go of perfection and learn to live with greater authenticity, passion, and presence, I am actually enjoying life more and even making a greater contribution. And I hope I’m a little more enjoyable and fun to be around. To borrow from Leonard Cohen, I’m letting go of my “perfect offering” and remembering what it means to be human.