November 24, 2013 by alunparry
I’m Not Worthy (Except When I Am Perfect)
I used to be a perfectionist but I’m not now.
Hang on – should that be I’m not anymore?
I used to be a perfectionist but I’m not anymore.
Hmmmm. Let me try again.
I was once a perfectionist but I no longer am.
I could fiddle around like this for hours, tweaking and fussing, but you understood me the first time, right?
The way I first said it was good enough.
Plus, my tweaking and fussing and lack of progress for such a tiny improvement (if it was an improvement at all) – it was kind of annoying wasn’t it?
As a perfectionist I typically wasted my focus on things which were already more than enough.
Meanwhile, someone who is happy to keep it simple moves on to do other productive things.
Life is simpler for the simplifier, and as a bonus they don’t stress everyone else out by turning the irrelevant into a full-scale palaver.
The simplifier will still do quality work – they’ll just likely do more of it. They don’t fuss and optimise. They do it. They move on. They keep it simple.
We can get our work to a standard where it is more than enough very quickly.
But turning great into nigh on perfect will take absolutely ages – and the difference between great and nigh on perfect is really too small to justify it.
Not only that, I was a miserable perfectionist, as perfectionists are condemned to be.
There can be no joy in a job well done if all we see is how it fell short of perfect. There can only be relief at perfection or despair at failure – even though failing in our eyes is creating something that was still great work.
And that’s without mentioning the endless worry, and the persistent post-mortems.
No wonder perfectionists are miserable. No wonder we refuse to own our achievements. No wonder we see ourselves as less than we are, no matter what external thing we achieve. No wonder we can never rest, always seeking to prove ourselves, but always failing against our own ‘set up to fail’ terms.
The stakes are high of course. Our entire okayness is invested in that perfection.
My perfectionism was not a strength.
It was me believing that I was not okay. It was me feeling that I could only be of worth, lovable, and accepted if I was perfect, because who I was just wasn’t good enough.
I couldn’t let my work be more than enough, because I didn’t believe that I was more than enough.
But I am. I really am. So are you. So is each of us.
We have nothing to prove. We are already enough. We are okay who we are. We are already worthy of love and acceptance, friendship and connection. We have more to offer than fussing around the edges of something that already exists and is already great.
Attempting perfection doesn’t work. Not only is perfection an impossible and ugly illusion, but that sense of worth and okayness cannot be created on the outside with the perfect soup, the perfect gig, the perfect parenting, the perfect face, the perfect body, the perfect whatever.
It can only be created from the inside out, through the kindness and regard for ourselves that we would naturally afford to others.
We cannot claim to be humanitarians if we exclude any of humanity from our kindness, empathy and acceptance.
And that includes ourselves.