Sunday, January 18, 2015

Paralyzed by Perfection

I have three things I need to confess to all of you.

First off, I didn't send out any sort of holiday cards this year. And I love holiday cards. But I didn't get them done.

Second, I professionally straightened my hair. I first did this four years ago, absolutely loved it, but have held off doing it again for a lot of reasons. But I got it done.

Third, I've been trying to pack my lunch again. Only not in my cute little Bento lunchbox, but in this kind of haphazard way. But I did it three times last week.

These actually aren't three different confessions, but one giant confession instead. The real confession is that I'm a perfectionist, and if things can't be done just so, then I'd rather not do them at all. I didn't have a photo that I was thrilled about, so I didn't design cards this year. I didn't want to spend the money on straightening my hair (even though it makes me ridiculously happy), so I didn't do it for years. And somehow, it's more acceptable in my mind to buy lunch everyday than to produce a little bit of extra waste by buying individual hummus and yogurt containers and leaving behind the Bento box. All three of these things have been making me feel very guilty. Some of these are good reasons--but a lot of them are really, really stupid.

So I skipped sending cards for the first time in 15 years. We saw a lot of our family members over the past few months, and I'm in touch with more friends than ever thanks to social media. We've always sent WAY more cards than we receive, and while it's an activity I've always enjoyed, it didn't happen this time. And it's okay.

So I spent a bunch of money straightening my hair. But I've been, as I said, ridiculously happy with it since I did it. I've wasted so much time stressing over bad hair days, with Hannah telling me my hair has expanded and looks bad by the time we've reached the bus stop on a humid morning. I feel guilty for being so vain. But honestly? It's okay too.

And I just don't have the time in my day to be cleaning the crevasses of my Bento box, or dealing with the ramifications when the yogurt leaks in my bag, or feeling frustrated that my cute little food items don't fit in the confines of the box. This doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing exercise. I can buy individually packaged items. It's totally okay.

Despite the many achievements I've had in my life, I still struggle with little things like this. Making decisions and giving myself permission to not get everything perfect, but good enough, and then not feeling guilty about the outcomes. No one is holding my lack of a new year's card against me, no one else really cares about what I do with my hair, and no one else is judging me for my lunch. And yet I'm beating myself up, failing to move forward, paralyzed by the need to be perfect.

I'm working on it, obviously, but I wish it was easier than it is.

What about you? Has perfection ever paralyzed you?

I might have used this on a card. Wishing you all the best in 2015!


  1. I agree with all the things you did and if it makes you happy why not?

  2. Oh, honey, I totally get you. I used to spend three hours cleaning our teeny tiny closet-sized bathroom, because if I was going to do it, I was going to do it perfectly. Then after baby #1, I didn't have three minutes to clean the bathroom, let alone three hours. So I didn't do it at all, and it got nasty. So I pay for cleaners to come twice a month. They don't clean it as perfectly as I would (if I had the time), but it gets done well enough. Letting go of these little things is such a challenge. And for the record, I love your hair either way. ;)

  3. This is me, to a tee. I have to make a very concerted (sometimes painfully so) effort to overcome my innate perfectionist tendencies in order to actually do stuff I really want to do. Isn't that annoying? At least you're trying (and sounds like succeeding!)

  4. I've tried really hard to let that go, especially since I had my daughter two years ago. Sometimes 50% is the best it's going to be, and often that's better than nothing. I also believe that letting some things go -- like the holiday card -- is OK too.

  5. You must live in my head! I get so stuck under the weight of perfection and am hung up on how I'm perceived. I'm recovering, though! I find myself overtly asking myself - are you being cowardly and focusing too much on what others think? By clearly naming it for myself, it's allowed me to start pushing past it! I love your confession!

  6. Know that we feel your pain, dear friend! xxoo

  7. Oh, gosh. I just wrote a piece this week about my son's perfectionism (and let's just say the apple doesn't fall far). It's easy for me to say: cut yourself some slack. That said, I don't cut myself any :)