“Refusing to accept any standard short of perfection.” Those words have weighed over me my whole life, casting a heavy shadow as much as they’ve driven me forward. I’ve never been able to settle for second best, I’ve always questioned everything to ensure it’s the best possible reflection of what it needs to be, and I developed a bit of a reputation in the offices I’ve worked as a pessimist. The truth is, I’m just a perfectionist. I struggle to see why everyone wouldn’t want to be their best, to produce their best work; I can’t quite get my head around how so many others would be happy saying ‘that’ll do’ or showing a client a presentation that doesn’t look super slick. Although it can definitely prove a beneficial part of a personality (I was always sh*t hot in client meetings) and ensure I’m always striving for more, it can also be a massive drawback: it’s easy to constantly question, compare and see holes in your plans.
These niggling little voices don’t just stop in the workplace, but they spill over into every element of life. From organising my home and feeling anxious when the pillows aren’t placed just right, to spending fifteen minutes choosing shoes that match perfectly with my outfit, I do waste a lot of time ‘faffing’ as my husband calls it. I’m slightly ashamed to admit I think people will judge me based on a chipped nail or the grey roots popping through from my red-tinted brunette hue, or if my bathroom isn’t cleaned spotlessly when they pop in to use the loo; deep down I know they really won’t notice or care, but in the moment I just want everything to be as perfect as it can be. The truth is the ability to self assess and self critique is definitely a plus,
but those personality traits can also be debilitating if you let them.
Over the last year or so I’ve made a conscious effort to try and not be bogged down with the little details, or worry about elements that are beyond my control; I think maybe planning a wedding helped, and coming to the realisation that not everything would be 100% perfect (no matter how much I wanted it to be.) Handing over control to other people and putting trust in them made my inner perfectionist squirm with anxiety, but it had to be done – and I think I’ve benefited a lot from the experience. Being able to step back and look at the bigger picture, to breathe in what has been achieved rather than worrying about those tiny details that nobody else would notice, helped to ease my anxieties and to show myself it’s ok not to be perfect. It’s ok just to be quite good.
I think my only saving grace as a perfectionist is that I’m also a ‘get sh*t done-er’. People have always come to me when they needed something sorted, some advice or simply someone to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. My need to finish up a job, tick something off a list or send a presentation over before the deadline far outweighs my need to ensure it’s absolutely perfect (even if I do read through it five times before hitting send.) As far as this blog goes, I’ve become a little more chill over the years and started to celebrate small wins rather than always thinking about that post I should’ve spent more time writing or those photos that I’m not quite happy with. I may be known to completely re-take shots for a post after it’s gone live because they just don’t look as great on the page as I’d like, but to balance that I don’t sit on content because it’s not absolutely the best thing I’ve ever written. I just press publish.
Sometimes you just have to be self-congratulatory and celebrate what you’ve achieved in that moment, and that it’s the best you can do at that time. Sometimes you have to focus on the positives, rather than circling the negatives with a big red pen. Sometimes you just need to chill and realise people will still like you / you’ll still have a job / the world won’t end if that flatlay won’t necessarily win awards. In a world that’s so focused on ‘the perfect Instagram life’ and conveying the idea that everything is just peachy, it’s no surprise that anxiety about our own self worth is on the rise. But we need to take a step back and know that we’re always good enough, even if we’re not perfect.
So from hereon in? “I am refusing to refuse to accept any standard short of perfection.”
I’m just me, and I’m cool with that. With all the non-perfect things that brings. (She says fluffing the pillows…)
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