Learning to let go of perfection

Do you guys follow The Coletterie? It’s one of my favorite blogs to follow, and some of Sarai’s recent posts on perfection  and body image have really struck a chord with me. It’s an issue that I’ve really struggled with.

You see, I’m one of those “fiercely independent” types. One of those, “Gosh darn it, I’m gonna do something and do it RIGHT.” Annoying, right? I find though that the more I know about an activity (be it sewing, my job, or really anything else), the more I realize I don’t know.

keep-calm-because-you-know-nothing-jon-snowMy inner perfectionist reels at the thought. For a long time I viewed lacked of knowledge or skill in a particular area as a blight against my character. I had a mini-fit of rage earlier this week after basting, ripping, pinning, rebasting, and finally sewing together the top for my current costume project because it’s not laying just right. I had to sit back and give myself a mental pep talk. I’m not entering this costume into a contest. I’m not being paid to make this costume. Why was I freaking out over it?

Reading Sarai’s post from Tuesday jolted me. I realized that I’ve been applying the same standards of perfection to many other facets of my life, including my body. For years, I’ve made statements along the lines of “I’ll only wear that when I’m [insert goal number] pounds,” or, “I’ll do [insert goal activity] when I get to this level of physical fitness.”  I’ve heard many people in my life make similar statements. I’m not exactly sure when I realized that these statements were more often limitations rather than motivators for me. For every one of these goals that I missed, I felt more and more like a failure.

This quote was definitely a wake-up moment for me:

But first I had to stop hating myself. It’s the exact opposite of what they sell you, that if you compare yourself and hate yourself enough, you’ll have the motivation to do better.

It’s a lie. You know why? Because the hate won’t stop. Self-flagellation might help you make some changes, but once you accomplish what you set out to do, you will not magically feel good enough.

Even reading it now makes me tear up a little. It’s so applicable to every struggle with perfection that I have.  Hating on myself or my  work doesn’t help. It only leads to an unending cycle of despair.

So I’m shifting. I’m moving my focus from perfection in my pursuits to enjoying the process. Reveling in the fact that while I’m overweight by BMI standards, I can run for miles and am ridiculously strong. Rolling with a mistake on a project and turning it into something entirely new. Being okay with making mistakes and learning from them. Accepting that I am a worthwhile person and that my flaws are a part of who I am.

Do you guy struggle with perfection? I’m curious to read your thoughts on it and how you handle it.

One more thought nugget for your weekend.

And just because it’s so delightfully appropriate:

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2 thoughts on “Learning to let go of perfection

  1. Well said! I get the same way, especially with work. Everything has to be JUST the right way or I get flustered and try to scrap an entire project and put myself down. And that quote is so spot on, putting yourself down in order to try and achieve more is just counterproductive when you really need to be your own cheerleader and accept some less than perfect situations.

  2. Let it go — summed up nicely! With my projects, I always have to remind myself that I am not competing with anyone and that it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect (as long as I am happy with it).

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