7.4
December 28, 2021

The Unnecessary Pressure of Perfectionism—& Why It’s Okay to Let Go.

 

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I wrote out my aspirations on the weekend and created this massive dream vision board.

Oh yes, I got caught up in the end-of-year craziness! And although many of us have ditched the whole “new years goals” thing, let’s be frank here: I think we like this idea because it feels like a fresh start. 

And the idea of newness, refreshment, and wiping the slate clean to get it right “this time” is a timeless theme in spirituality. So is it any wonder we love the new year so much?

Unfortunately though, after spending hours on Youtube watching manifesting videos (gosh, they are addictive), I became caught up in the hype. There’s nothing wrong with what I was doing—but as a “recovering” perfectionist, extremist type, sometimes it’s not the best thing.

A few hours later, I was sleepy, bothered by Perth’s heat (it’s summer in Australia—and very hot!), and I went to lift my dog. She needs help sometimes going across the titles. So in a rush, I bent over, picked her up, and suddenly my entire body turned clammy and weak. I felt this pop in my lower back, and I felt instantly nauseated. An old spinal injury flared up and man oh man, the pain has been awful! 

I’m sitting here, leaning on one side to write this—it’s been an interesting few days in the hottest weather, walking one millimeter at a time because of the pain, plus a sudden COVID-19 lockdown. 

It was like the universe was saying, “You shall not pass!” Well—you shall not move forward at that insane pace Anjelica!

At first, I was like, “Why?” Why does something like this happen when I plan my life (to a tee, because that’s what we perfectionist, A types tend to do)? 

I felt defeated—only for a few moments because I had been here before and knew better. But not before I got angry at God for a hot minute. And I was embarrassed by what came out of my mouth. “Why am I trying to do everything right, and it seems like no matter how much I try, things like this happen?” Oh, that victim mentality. As soon as I heard her woes, I was like, yeh, no, you stop that right now!

In my life, I’ve dealt with chronic illness, anxiety, pains—and there seems to be a common theme. Although long ago, I never saw it, I do now—when I’m pushing too hard, too fast, and expecting way too much overnight, my body tells me.

And it’s funny because I consciously choose daily to slow down, breathe, and practice living in the present moment. I live it, breathe it, and practice it every day. I enjoy taking good care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually because once upon a time I was so unwell, and never want to go back to that place again. 

But I still, even now, even after practicing for so long to live a balanced lifestyle, fall back into old mental habits and fears—and worldly trends against by better judgment.

I still get caught up sometimes in things on the internet, new years, the idea of goals, success, achievement—striving.

I still, sometimes, let my old self rear her head and call the shots—the girl I created, the girl I thought I was supposed to be, this perfect version of me.

And when she does, she silences the real me—the woman who wants to pace herself, do things well, but also have room for fun, spontaneity, and living. The woman who wants be diligent and patient, and not hard on herself anymore.

She criticizes that woman—the woman who is free, kind to herself, and loves to laugh. 

She questions her motives and actions, always suggesting she “do a little more” and quietly but sternly, saying, “Are you sure you’ve done enough?”

As I struggled to walk the last few days, I made the conscious decision to do my best—and then rest. To show up, and then let it be. 

I never used to be like this though.

If I felt unwell or weak, I would feel defeated—a failure. But this further perpetuates the problem. So instead, I learned in these moments of physical weakness to do what I can and leave the rest to the universe.

Over time, I noticed something peculiar. 

My life never crumbled by not being “perfect.” 

No one was judging me and telling me, “You’re a failure!” 

I looked better than the days when I was worried about this and that.

I also noticed my work flowed better, productivity improved, and I enjoyed my downtime. 

I have learned the most about letting go of perfectionism, extremely high “standards,” and placing unnecessary pressure on myself through physical ailments. In my weakest moments, by purely showing up and doing my best and letting it be enough—it was enough and sometimes better.

Yep.

Because when our overly driven perfectionist self moves out of the way, the real us can come forth and shine. 

And she’s enough.

Through these times, I have learned about my conditioning as a child to be “perfect” all the time—and how I no longer need to live that way. But it’s hard. Because the process feels like we are ridding ourselves or denying who we are.

Instead, I see it this way now:

We are embracing the authentic version of ourselves without all the conditioning, expectations, or belief systems from society. 

The journey of “recovery,” or as I like to see it, acquiring our equilibrium and balance, may mean that we need to co-exist with our perfectionist tendencies. She’ll pop up from time to time, and our duty is not to rid ourselves of her but to understand her. 

I understand that I was expected to be “perfect” once due to growing up in a religious setting. But that wasn’t the real me.

Instead, I have often found my true self, not by being perfect but by listening to my soul, taking chances, and choosing the unknown paths in life, all in all, surrendering control. 

Like the time I ventured across the other side of Australia to find alternative ways of healing, with a one-way ticket, no job, and nowhere to live. After a few months of living in Queensland, I miraculously became well—and those symptoms disappeared.

Then there’s the time I quit my career in real estate to pursue journalism, leaving the life I thought I was supposed to live for a path I was not even sure was possible, and now doing just that.

What about my journey of spirituality? To continuously let go of religion and doctrine to find God in nature, on hikes, amongst the trees—it goes against everything I was taught, and yet, it’s where my soul comes alive.

And maybe that is the most challenging part of “recovering” as a perfectionist. We know that honoring our true selves means letting go of these notions to do more, be more, strive more, and instead let go, let loose, and risk imperfection.

When we’ve lived trying to be perfect in everything we do, it feels slack and lazy to “let go”—but most significantly, irresponsible. 

But it’s not. And that is what I am learning the most out of this journey.

We are not irresponsible for choosing to do our best, and then letting it be, and for relinquishing control in favor of mental health, joy, and inner freedom. It’s not irresponsible to do a little less so we can last the test of time. It’s not irresponsible to tune out the noise of the world to walk our own path—as slow, as imperfect, and as wild as it may appear to be.

Because this is where our most genuine self resides, in the balance between showing up, and letting go.

Perfectionism may tell us we are never enough, but our true self knows that we are.

So trust her, the voice within who guides you beyond the limitations of perfectionism.

Let her be—let her be.

~

Share with me in the comments how you let go—even when you feel the need to be perfect.

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