We all have this idea of what perfect means. It’s someone who gets up at 6 a.m. every morning, has a healthy breakfast, goes to work, kicks ass there, comes home where everything is instable and clean and comfortable, and then celebrates a little before going to bed with his loved one.
The one who always has perfect hair and make-up. The one who’s always in control.
That perfect person, well, there is no such thing.
For so long I have tried to meet the standards I set for myself – standards I had to meet to finally fit into the shape of my own perfection. And I failed. I was constantly nervous, constantly on edge and depressed if even the slightest thing went wrong.
Unanswered emails haunted my dreams; my need to be the perfect co-worker, the perfect daughter, sister and employee cost me my health. In my quest for perfection, I missed so many beautiful things around me.
And even then I was so sure it was my fault – I should have tried harder, I could have done better. But the thing is, I couldn’t.
I’m only human, and I certainly don’t fit into this form of perfection that I imagined.
But finally, after so long, I can say that I am imperfectly perfect. I can say that I am happy and at peace.
I am at peace with myself because I have learned to embrace my imperfect self and I have stopped feeling inadequate. And maybe some of the things I’ve learned can help you, too.
1. Perfection is not real
We are not meant to be perfect. People make mistakes on purpose. Otherwise, they’d call us robots. My idea of perfect is not the same as yours, and your idea of perfect is not the same as your friend’s.
So why are you making life difficult for yourself over something that is an illusion? Why should you lose sleep over things you can’t control?
Live your life to the fullest, because when you get old, you won’t remember how good you were at being perfect. You will remember all the crazy and good things you did for yourself.
2. Remember that you are enough.
If we seek the approval of another person instead of our own, we will never feel satisfied. I compared myself so much to others that I started to hate, I started to hate, I’m not talented enough for math, I’m bad at basketball, I’m bad at makeup – I can’t even pull out the winged eyeliner properly.
I was never good enough, and it consumed me every day because I worked my ass off, but I was still not satisfied. So I changed my perspective.
I wrote on every single mirror and on every single wall in my home things that I love about myself and that I am good at. I’m good at writing. I’m good at cooking. I love my blue eyes. I love my red hair.
I needed to remind myself every day that I am enough and that I have things to be thankful for. I love both my arms, both my legs. I love my ability to walk, to speak and to see. I love that I am enough because now I know that I am.
3. Letting go of the things that you can’t control
We cannot control what other people think about us and how they think about us. I tried to do the things I thought were right. I tried to act perfectly because I believed that it was really a perfect way.
And in that way I hurt some people with no intention of doing it. But the thing is, we can’t decide whether or not we’re gonna hurt someone.
We don’t get to decide whether they like us or not. We have no control over other people, we have no control over the future, and that’s what scared the hell out of me.
I would stay up all night thinking about what I said, whether someone would like me, what will happen tomorrow, how to stop someone from leaving.
But that’s life – people come and go, shit happens, and the only thing we have power over is how we react to it.
4. Changing your self-talk
Would you spend time with your friends if they said the things you keep telling yourself? Would you still love them if they kept talking about your weaknesses, about how you could do better, how you could try harder?
It is hard to love someone who sees only the bad in us; it is hard to love someone who has nothing but complaints for us. How can you love yourself if you do this again and again?
Instead of thinking about how your hair looks, think about how you start a new fashion trend.
Instead of thinking about how you could lose even more weight, think about how curvy you are and how wonderful it feels to enjoy life.
Instead of thinking about how ugly, messed up and unworthy you are, look into your eyes and repeat “I am enough” until you finally believe it.
And give yourself a smile in the mirror – it has been proven to immediately improve our mood.
5. Remember that you are an unfinished project.
Nobody can make something perfect on the first try. It’s the failures that teach us lessons. It is the opportunity to try again, to show strength, to continue, that teaches us lessons.
They teach us how amazing we are, how strong, how persistent we are. My professor used to say that beauty is in the journey, not the destination.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly love to reach my goals, but I have also learned to enjoy the journey. I have learned that I am an unfinished work.
I’m still learning how to be an adult. I am still learning to love myself. I’m still learning that it’s okay to fail. Even when it burns, even when you get knocked down, it’s still okay.
I’ll make it, I’ll make it.
6. Cut the people pleasantly
It is not someone else’s happiness that counts – it is yours. It’s not about pleasing others, it’s about pleasing yourself. No matter how hard you try, they will always ask you to try harder.
No matter how much you give, it will never be enough. Instead of pursuing their happiness and needs, you will begin to pursue your own.
Say “no” from time to time to respect yourself, so that they can respect you too. Respect your time so that they can respect you.
The first time I said “no” to my colleague because I had taken over his part of the work, I felt so bad. I felt like the worst person ever. But he didn’t even flinch. He just moved on to someone else.
I remember rolling around in bed all night thinking that maybe I could have taken over his part of the work. I mean, I don’t sleep anyway.
But he couldn’t even remember that I apologized the next day. He never cared who was going to do the work – he just cared that he wasn’t the one doing it.
That’s when I realized I was losing sleep for someone who couldn’t even remember talking to me. And how many times had I done the same thing without realizing it? How many times had you done the same thing?
You must be thinking, “Why the hell should I dream? What does that have to do with hugging myself?” Remember when we were kids and had the craziest dreams?
We wanted to be firemen, astronauts, ballerinas, and well, I wanted to be Picasso (I was a crazy kid). We had these dreams and we practiced for them.
We danced all day long to be ready when we became ballerinas. We put out imaginary fires to be ready when our fate as firemen comes.
And I painted all over the house because I wanted to be the next Picasso. And somehow we lost our dreams of being great kids and adults, caring, social, rested and active students, after all the striving for good grades, meeting all standards.
We lost our ability to find perfection in the craziest things because we were taught differently. We were taught that perfection is having good grades, a college degree, a steady job, and a family by the time we are 30.
And believe me, in this case, it’s not. It’s about loving ourselves, having big dreams, and finding ourselves every day, because we still have a long way to go. We might as well make it a fun day.