Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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I remember when I was in the third grade and I received one of my quarterly report cards, there was a comment in the comment section that said something along the lines of, “great to have in class, but is a perfectionist.” Now, I definitely remember at the time (as a 9 year old) being extremely offended and annoyed that I was labeled a perfectionist. Immediately, my 9 year old self started thinking about all the different ways I could “perfect” and “fix” my problem. Even though I was in denial at the time, those words in that comment box have stuck with me, now almost 17 years later.
Fast forward to numerous New Years’ Days growing up, I would wake up on what I saw as a brand new opportunity to excel and immediately tried to be the absolute best, to perfect every role and responsibility in my possession. And then, shortly afterwards, usually around 2 or 3 in the afternoon on New Years Day, I would mess up, I would fail and the immense feeling of disappointment and frustration would sink in.
My perfectionist self survived the heinous middle school years despite the social awkwardness and the bangs that I decided to give myself on a whim, and moving on to high school and college, perfectionism most definitely held me hostage, bounded me in some way. Continuing forth to adulthood (yes, adulthood) where perfectionist continued to inhibit me as a new wife and as a new teacher. And this is where the story has continued. A story of a girl endlessly trying to excel at every thing she does to the scale of her own expectation. And here we are five years later, because this July will mark five years of marriage to my high school sweetheart and I am currently in the midst of teaching year five. (Not quite sure where the time has gone!!) Anyways… my daily thoughts centered around how I was performing in relation to my expectations and to be honest those expectations were extreme.
And in the course of the last several months my heart has simply shifted and it has produced the most significant change. In the past few months, I have truly learned to let go of my rigorous and militant expectations and have pursued living a life filled with grace and freedom. And it has been the most purifying and uplifting process. That process has brought me here in this moment to share some words that have been slowly building in my heart for some time, and I knew today was time for an overflow… an overflow of words (hopefully encouraging) from my heart to the keys.. to shine some light on the darkness that fighting with perfectionism can bring.
As humans, it is in our nature to constantly seek more, to constantly desire more, whether that is tangible or intangible, we are restless souls always eager and searching for more. When you focus on this at an internal level, we as humans place expectations on ourselves everyday and unfortunately, for a lot of us these expectations are binding. These expectations range from “I need to work harder, perfect this task, get in better shape, be more personable, get a good performance review.. and the list truly goes on and on. Simply think of the moments when you in your own life say to yourself, “I could have done better with/in _____________” OR “I am a failure at or failing at _______________.” We all have those moments. Now, with a perfectionist type personality/trait added into this equation, these statements have the ability to consume and define us and unfortunately that means we as individuals are defining ourselves not on our successes or our triumphs, but on the areas we personally feel like we have failed.
The truth that has been slowing building in my heart is actually quite simple. Now, I know some of you are thinking, “does this mean we shouldn’t care, or we should stop working hard or stop taking care of ourselves, our health, our fitness/wellness, relationships, the home…” And the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! In fact, when you can fine tune the workings of your heart, and mind, and spirit, you have the ability to overcome perfectionism and continue to excel and exceed in all the areas your heart desires. How? It all is brought back to grace. Grace, unmerited favor. Nothing you could possibly ever do yourself to earn it, it is freely given. So what if we as humans extended grace to ourselves on a daily basis. Can you imagine the positive self-talk we would engage in every single day. Have a little grace.
Something amazing happens when you can have grace for yourself. Stress and anxiety can fade away in the very moment that you look within your soul and acknowledge that you are doing the best you can and that is simply enough. And in the moments when you humbly realize that you are in fact are not doing your best there is a freedom from expectation and a desire to want to do more, not because you have to, not because of your expectations, but because of the freedom you have experienced by giving yourself grace. The extension of grace is freedom. Freedom from comparison, from envy, from self doubt, from insecurity. The extension of grace is freedom and that freedom is life.
So the next time that you feel like you are worthless, or inadequate, or failing at something or not living up to what your desired standard is, the next time you are hit with these feelings of insignificance and doubt, I want you to take a deep breath and know that 1. everything is going to be okay and 2. you are absolutely worth it. And 3. You are the one with the ability to change your thoughts, and once your thoughts change, your world changes. So create a world for yourself filled with hope, and light, and encouragement. Create a world for yourself that you feel honored to live in. A world where you simply just be and any time you feel tempted by the should have/could have/would have scenarios, your immediate reaction will be to smile and think that “it is okay!”