“Perfectionism is the ultimate fear… People who are walking around as perfectionists… They are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for who they really are and they won’t measure up.” – Oprah
In this current phase of my life, I am choosing to focus on being present over being perfect. I have recently realized how often I have blocked myself from my own joy by not partaking in activities simply because I did not believe I could them perfectly. As I slowly begin to take stock of my life and put into place my plans for where I go from here, I have been overwhelmed with the number of things I would love to get into and yet never previously embraced. Speaking another language, taking voice lessons and photography are the ones that come readily to mind. I have solid stories for why I shouldn’t or couldn’t embrace these things, I am not good with languages, singing lessons have no return on investment and I just don’t have the time or the money to put into photography. As I tell myself these stories, ones that I have told myself for years, I begin to realize that that is precisely what they are, stories that I can use to protect myself from not being perfect.
With the barrage of images, we see of others leading their “perfect” lives, it seems like the standards for perfection keep getting higher and higher. “Perfect” bodies, parties, homes, dates, gifts, meals, and the list is never-ending. It feels like no matter what you do, you can’t just show up you have to SHOW UP. In the act of putting everything in its place positioned just so, we lose the magic of being fully present.
For fear of imperfection, I have often forgotten to just show up. Does it ring true for you as well? In trying to host the perfect party, I have missed so many great conversations, moments and events. And isn’t life just another party? I have come to a point where I am consciously choosing to just show up, messy hair, no makeup and totally enthralled with the everyday wonders that surround me.
Funny how this fear of imperfection that I didn’t even realize I had stunted my joy and growth, in anything that I would like to do for the sole purpose of having fun. Oddly enough this does not stand with anything that could be a chore, good at it or not I always do the things I don’t particularly want to do, simply because they must get done. Often the first to volunteer when things need to get accomplished, I am not scared of hard work, change or learning new things.
Thing is I am not much of a perfectionist, a bit cluttered, dressed for comfort and mostly cook and bake things that taste better then they look. Before this realization, I would have described myself as a Free Spirit unafraid to take the first step, dance like no one’s watching right? And yet still here we are, looking at the things I do not do, for fear of not doing them well. How silly, to not even try because I might not be perfect? How could I be perfect without practice and play?
Why is it that reaching for things that are more bliss and less practical is so very hard to do? When I must do something, I have no issue getting it done. I can find the time, energy and focus to accomplish many tasks on my list, but if it is just my desire to do it, the story changes. Suddenly my resources and resolve diminish and cannot support my bliss. I am a pretty resourceful person and as I dissect my journey thus far, I can see how I have managed to still express my creativity by finding ways to monetize my creative endeavors. I barter my skills and therefore suddenly have the time and resources to write, to crochet, to bake and any host of several things I love to do. Sadly, if you take away my ability to earn with my creativity and make it something I do solely for the purpose of enjoying it and feeling joy, and I stop. Or I should say, I have let it stop me in the past.
It’s time for a bit of a reframe, once you know better you do better, and I deserve better, we all do. We all deserve boundless Joy. We all deserve to be seen, laughing and glowing and totally in the moment and what better way to do that then to try new things just because we want to. Have you ever watched a child master a new skill? I remember when my daughter was 5 and she so wanted to make it across the monkey bars. It took about a month of her watching other kids do it before she even tried and probably another month before she made it all the way across. I will never forget her screaming “I did it!” as she vibrated with so much joy her body couldn’t contain it. Can you even begin to remember feeling like that? Can you define the last time you felt like that? I WANT THAT!
The great news is that we now know that it is all about having a growth mindset, we are not limited to the way we have always been. The next time my mind and yours say something like “Oh, we aren’t good at that.” Correct it and say “Yet, we aren’t good at that yet.” And frankly, maybe we will never be the best at whatever we try, but it’s all about the journey, right?
“I call perfectionism ‘the 20-ton shield.’ We carry it around thinking it’s going to protect us from being hurt. But it protects us from being seen.” – Brene Brown
The next time you think to yourself, “I would really love to learn to dance, sing, paint, etc.” and you hear the following negative chatter:
“Seriously…you’ll never find the time to invest in that course you need?”
“What about the kids?”
“It’s just too expensive…”
“And who do you think you are, anyway? So selfish!”
SHUT THAT DOWN!
Maybe it is about having a safe space to practice, I spent 11 years in a relationship with a Latino, I can understand Spanish, I can read Spanish…but I can’t speak Spanish. Or maybe, I don’t speak Spanish because my relationship was not safe, it was not supportive and I shrank away from being ridiculed for not being able to roll my “R”s the right way. To be fair, my self-limiting belief that I was not good at languages had started years earlier, I just must wonder if I might have moved past it if I had felt secure enough to risk failure.
Look for that safe place, the community that doesn’t care if you are perfect, they only care if you are present. Personally, I love Sweet Serenity Yoga and Wellness, because unlike many of the fitness clubs out there, no one cares what you are doing. Well, other than the instructor who just wants to keep you safe. Simon Sinek claims that bravery is not an inherent characteristic, but a result of existing in an environment where you feel secure enough to be brave. Although I am not certain it is one or the other, I do feel that the more supported you feel, the more comfortable you will be showing up and being present.
So please take this plunge with me and try something you think you might be horrible at just because you want too. Can we all take little steps to be Joyfully Imperfect? Dance more, sing off-key and paint, even if it just by number.
~Namaste: Michiko @SweetSerenityYoga