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My wake up call on perfectionism and what I learnt.


My wake up call on perfectionism and what I learnt.

Penny Younger

Over the last few years, I’ve been wanting to change something in my life.

I’ve wanted to change it so badly, that it’s begun to completely consume me and I’ve become to tunnel visioned and so obsessive over it that I’ve lost sight of, whether the change is actually even true for me.

I had a bit of a wakeup call yesterday.

This thing got the better of me.

I had a fight with someone whom it also affected and I realised, without knowing it, this thing I’ve been wanting has made me resentful, impatient and it’s slowly been chipping away at my happiness for longer than I probably realised.

The thing I want to change isn’t the enemy, it’s the way I’ve been going about it.

I haven’t been gentle in the process.

If I’m honest, I’ve been quite ruthless, harsh and I’ve pushed so hard for it that I’ve felt like one of those Warner Brothers cartoon characters trying to move a boulder, where they don’t move it anywhere, but their feet go at a million miles an hour trying to move it.

That’s how I’ve been, unconsciously, for a few years and it’s been exhausting.

I’ve been pushing against a tide,  that just hasn’t been flowing.

When something doesn’t change, we need to look at why.

And when we want something to change, we also need to look at why.

If a change is meant for us, in any area, it should feel expansive, freeing and uplifting, even if it requires discipline.

It shouldn’t feel heavy and the bane of our existence.

So, I ask myself: why do I want this to change? What does my soul get out of it? Is it something I want to change, because it’s in my highest interest – or - is it because I’ve seen what ‘perfection’ looks like in this area, and I’ve grabbed onto that?

They are two different things.

One of those things is wanting to change something because it feels exciting and inspiring and beautiful. It’s true for you.

The other one isn’t even going after what you want, it is going after what would be ‘perfect.’

Perfectionism and my desired goal, are two different things. Two different roads. Two different destinations.

You’re at a cross roads, and one is to the left, the other is to the right.

Do you want your desired change, or do you want perfection?

Perfection will always lead you away from what you want, because perfection is stressful, hard and well, impossible.

Going after my desired change from a place of consciousness and mindfulness, knowing exactly how I want it to feel; this option asks that I feel into my body and constantly ask it for guidance. Am I on the right track? Is this still feeling good? Does the pursuit of this change still feel light and true? It wants me to ask questions and constantly check in with how true the journey is.

If it’s no longer true, it wants me to pivot, change and reassess. It wants me to change my mind.

The other route, going after perfectionism, wants me to strive, push and stop at nothing until the image of what I am going for, is a physical reality in my life. And it doesn’t care how that makes me feel in the process. It also doesn’t care how it makes other people involved feel. It doesn’t care if it’s even true for me.

The first route cares deeply about the process, the other only wants the end goal.

The wakeup call I got yesterday looked like me calling my best friend, at my wits end, in tears; asking why on earth I am hitting this brick wall, why nothing is changing when I desperately want it to and that I have no idea what to do anymore.

She very lovingly, and very accurately told me that I need to accept what actually is.

The thing I want to change, it hasn’t changed, not in 3 years.

So instead of saying to myself ‘this will be perfect when X changes’ – she told me that I need to literally just look at that area of my life with my eyes open to exactly how it looks, now. How it actually has looked for the last 3 years, and to tune in with how it feels just as it is.

Why did I want to change it in the first place?

Is it actually enough, just the way it is?

I have never asked myself that question, because I got an image of what ‘perfect’ would look like, and I’ve been striving for that for such a long time. I’ve never stopped to just be in how it is currently, and try that on for size.

What if, what I currently have, has always been enough?

What if, for the last 3 years, I’ve tortured myself over wanting to change something that isn’t even true for me?

What if the idea of it being perfect has been more important than feeling content with imperfection?

When you want something to change; whether it be in your health, in your relationships, in your work – it’s really important that you identify why the change is necessary.

We are fed so many people’s opinions and theories as to what our lives should, or could look like, that we (I) get so caught up in that vision that we lose sight of what is actually true for us.

Just because something is right for someone else, doesn’t mean its right for you.

Are you eating the way you are because it feels true in your body, or because its how your favourite health guru does? Are you fighting with your partner over an issue because it actually bothers you, or because your best friend was bothered by the same issue in her relationship?

There are so many ways to live, eat, love, work, play, and relax – none of which are ‘perfect.’ Some are just more suited to you than others.

And we don’t ever give ourselves permission for that to be okay; for a certain way of living to be right for one person, but not right for ourselves.

Just because someone else is striving for X, doesn’t mean we need to strive for it, too.

- - - - - - - - - -

I wanted something to change because I got wind of what ‘the perfect scenario’ would look like.

I then got fixated on that outcome and continued to chase perfectionism (or my version of it) for a few years, never checking in with myself, if that scenario was even true for me, or how I was starting to feel along the way.

And where I wound up, yesterday, was at my wits end, in tears and completely exhausted by a pursuit I didn’t even know if I wanted to be on in the first place.

Because when we are on the pursuit of perfectionism, we don’t take the time to actually look at our current ‘imperfect’ circumstances to see if they actually make us feel better than that of trying to chase something that isn’t even real.

When we get over how it should look, we then have the space to see how it does look.

So, today, I am accepting what actually is; what my reality really looks like. And I’m sitting with that; with the truth of the situation, in all its imperfection. I’m seeing how that feels, which I’ve never done before. I’ve never accepted that this might actually, be enough.

Regardless if it is, or isn’t – it’s from this new place of acceptance, that I can then feel out whether change is in fact necessary, at all.