Redefining Perfectionism: Embracing Imperfection and the Process of Life

Perfectionism can manifest in various ways. It may appear as the person with the cleanest house or car, the student who cries over a B+ on a test, or those who avoid trying anything new. It can also be seen in individuals who prefer to stay within their comfort zones, seeking familiarity and predictability. However, when we break it down, perfectionism often boils down to not fully showing up in life.

Showing up for life means embracing its messiness and discomfort, fully aware that it comes with failures. It’s not a matter of if we fail, but when we do. Failure requires courage and a willingness to take risks in a positive manner. Perfectionism, on the other hand, revolves around avoiding failure, often leading to avoidance behaviors or feelings of shame. It may even prevent individuals from embracing silliness and playfulness. Perfectionism can be reinforced by societal pressure to constantly “grind” and view activities solely as means to an end, rather than embracing the fun and enjoyment they can provide.

Those who truly show up to life acknowledge their imperfections and messiness. They understand that failure is part of the journey and can even find humor in it. They learn to appreciate the process, even amidst the ups and downs. It’s important to note that showing up doesn’t mean being happy at every failure. Rather, it means fully experiencing a range of emotions, including anger, tears, frustration, and disappointment, which are integral parts of life alongside joy. The difference lies in not hiding from these emotions, but rather embracing them all and recognizing that they are weatherable storms that lead to growth.

I speak from personal experience, as someone who has grappled with perfectionism. However, I have also practiced vulnerability and fearlessly put myself out there, unashamedly, even when I know I may not be the best. I dance at concerts when no one else is dancing, I engage in painting, drawing, and design, fully aware that I may never be regarded as an “artist.” Most importantly, I strive to weather the storms and relish in the process, embracing all the ups and downs that life offers.

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