Friday, September 21, 2012

Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)

From as far back as I can remember, I was terrified of being "imperfect." I don't really know why or from where this stemmed from. My parents have always loved and supported me unconditionally, and yet I place(d) so much pressure on myself to be "perfect."

Honestly, I never thought of it as perfect versus imperfect. I just had SUPER high expectations for myself, and I was very critical if I didn't reach them (even if I came very close... actually, mostly when I came very close).
"Always live up to your standards - by lowering them, if necessary." - Mignon McLaughlin
My parents have told me that the first time I got a 99% (instead of a 100%) on a homework assignment in elementary school, I came home in tears... they probably knew at that moment that we were in for a rough ride. Apparently, they tried to tell me that a 99% is very good, but I just wouldn't hear it. HA!

Realistically, I haven't reached MANY of my expectations and goals. I could list them here, but that would be a bit depressing. It's always bothered me, though, that many of my goals were missed by a mere hair. I was just a little short of meeting them, and that actually made it more difficult to accept.
"When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target." - George Fisher
I was brought up believing that I could achieve anything I really set my mind to. And, for the most part, that was true (based on my experiences). All through school (including college), I was good at a lot of things, but not "brilliant" in anything in particular.

I wasn't like those people that have known since childhood that they wanted to be a teacher or doctor (for instance). I went through different phases of what I wanted to be... none of which were really connected (vet, artist, architect, accountant, psychologist, business woman, writer). I truly believed that I could be good at whatever I chose, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was "supposed" to do. I felt that God could use me in any of those fields, so I didn't know where to go. Constantly hearing, "You're so lucky to be good at so many things... You can do anything, whatever you want" is beyond stressful! I didn't think it was luck at all. I felt almost cursed. Others around me felt a clear calling for a certain vocation, and I felt... LOST! I still feel pretty lost, but let's continue on with this discussion of imperfection...
"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius
Part of me wishes that someone would've told me that there's so much more to life than being perfect... but, I think that A LOT of people did tell me that, and I refused to truly listen. See, I knew it to be true, and yet I continued to try to hold myself to crazy-high standards (it probably didn't help that I was surrounded by over-achieving perfectionists, too).
"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
- Vince Lombardi

Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)

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