Greetings, SBSC readers! Jennie here. Lately, I’ve been observing something remarkable – a prevalence of perfectionism among my clients, their caregivers, and even within our very office. This observation has stirred something within me, prompting me to share my thoughts and insights through this blog post. Let’s delve into the captivating world of perfectionism and discover ways to navigate its enchanting allure together.
So hello, my fellow seekers of perfection! Buckle up, for we’re about to embark on a fantastical journey, exploring what we believe is the enchanting world of perfectionism. Whether you’re a young adult just starting to navigate life’s wild rollercoaster or a seasoned regular adult with years of wisdom under your belt, you’ve likely encountered the allure of the mythical unicorn called perfectionism. Today, we’ll delve into the whimsy of this magical trap and learn how to tame its mystical allure. It’s a trap. Don’t get sucked in.
The Allure of Perfectionism Ah, perfectionism, the shimmering mirage that promises happiness and success if only we could reach it! It’s like chasing a graceful unicorn through a sunlit meadow, captivating and seemingly within reach. Oh, believe me, I know this all too well. I watch clients, as young adults, determined to ace every test, impress every person, and climb the ladder of success like a determined mountaineer. The chase continues, fueled by the unyielding demands of society and their own high expectations. Why are we chasing after unicorns when they don’t exist? Being perfect doesn’t exist.
The Illusion of the Perfect Life But let me share a secret with you: perfection is nothing more than a captivating illusion. That elusive unicorn dances just out of reach, leaving us feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. Perfectionism is an impossible standard that nobody can truly meet – a truth as profound as it is liberating. Once we realize it doesn’t exisit, it allows us to relax. Unfortunately, many chase that illusion, leaving them longing for a life where everything falls perfectly into place — but honestly, that doesn’t happen. While we may see on social media observing the perfect lives of others, this comparison is not healthy, leaving us feeling inadequate and feeling like we aren’t good enough or falling short of what things “should” be like.
I was sharing with one of my teen clients recently that it’s almost like social media is a magician’s trick, showing us crafted, carefully curated moments or highlights rather than the truth of both joy and sadness, fantastic moments, but the struggles that lead up to those moments. You’ll see a picture of a couple, but what you don’t see is the fight they got into because one member of the couple just wanted ONE picture with BOTH smiling and “enjoying” the moment.
Embracing Imperfection and Unleashing Your Magic Now, if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that embracing imperfections can be an incredibly freeing experience. Admitting that you’re not perfect is a weight lifted off your shoulders. Just like unicorns, our uniqueness makes us special, and our flaws make us human. It’s time to discard the need to always have it together and simply enjoy the beauty of our true selves. This shift is hard…and scary. What, you want me to show my quirks and different parts of me? You are suggesting I “DONT” blend in???
When I told someone I was writing a blog post and I was going to give it a unicorn theme, they looked at me like I had grown my own unicorn horn. Ha! That look was pricesless. “Jennie, seriously?” Yup. But that’s me, taking writing a blog post and trying to make it fun. Entering into that vulnerability can be scary – but building a connection with someone that is authentic is well worth it to me. How many people wouldn’t be as engaged in this blog post if I didn’t bring out the whimsical, playful side of my personality?
Letting Go of Unrealistic Expectations Picture this: an adult, striving to be the best at everything while trying to balance a perfect social life and still make time for self-care and downtime. It was an exhausting juggling act, and many feel like a failure whenever they drop a ball. But here’s the epiphany – life isn’t a test we must ace or a performance we must perfect at. It’s an adventure meant to be explored, with all its ups and downs, bumps, and surprises. It’s okay to drop one of those balls we’re juggling, it’s OK to have one less ball to juggle with. Or just use it as a soccer ball instead of juggling.
I was sharing with a parent the other day about how we tend to think of success as a linear path – but really it’s more about the ebbs and flows. We need to stumble a few times before we find our best selves. For those that know me, I’m a horrible writer. If I write something or create a flier, 2 therapists in the office will read it and edit it for grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. (I still double-space after a period—did you know that’s not a thing anymore? Hmmm. ) When we hold onto these unrealistic expectations, we create chronic stress. I can obsess over a flier or blog post, or I can say, I did my best and move forward. These unrealistic expectations cause a sense of pressure that can lead to anxiety. When we hold onto these unrealistic expectations and fail to meet those, we develop low self-esteem. We become burnt out, we avoid taking on new opportunities, and we miss out on opportunities. Who wants that?
Discovering the Real Magic: Growth and Resilience As we stumble and rise again, we come to understand that real magic lies in growth and resilience. Resilience is the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties, it’s our ability to bounce back. Embracing our imperfections (instead of avoiding them) allows us to learn from our mistakes, develop resilience, and grow into stronger, more compassionate beings. Oh, I’ve had my fair share of falls, but each one taught me invaluable lessons that made me wiser and more appreciative of life’s little wonders. It’s so difficult to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself – but when i’ve done that, I have not regretted it. Now, when I make a mistake, it’s a new adventure, rather than a horrible detour I made. It’s important to make the conscious decision to say that and think that. When things don’t go according to plan, it’s a new adventure.
Enlisting the Help of Fairy Guides (counselors, advisors, coaches ) Now, I’ll let you in on a secret that changed my life: seeking support from counselors, advisors, and coaches is like having a magical fairy guide by your side. These compassionate beings offer invaluable tools to enhance self-awareness and navigate the tricky terrain of perfectionism. I like to say that they’ll sprinkle their fairy dust, guiding you through the woods of self-discovery, until you find your path illuminated with newfound clarity, but really they help provide tools and strategies, providing a mirror to reflect back what is happening at the moment, accountability to push you to follow through and of course a cheerleader. We all need someone cheering us on. Having my fairy guides helps me focus on problem solving, rather than just focusing on the problem. Let’s be honest, it’s so easy to focus on the problem, where I messed up, where I could have done something differently.
Okay, enough of the unicorn and magical thinking. I urge you to embrace your imperfectly perfect self. Perfectionism may shimmer like a unicorn, but real joy, growth, and fulfillment come from embracing the magic of imperfection. So, my fellow adventurers, let’s release the unicorn trap of self-expectations and soar free in the kaleidoscope of life’s beautiful imperfections! May your hearts be light and your spirits bright as you journey forth on this delightful path of self-discovery. And always remember, the most whimsical and magical parts of life are often found in the simple joy of being authentically you.
If you haven’t read Beautiful Oops, it’s well worth the 2-3 minutes to watch: https://youtu.be/cUUSxgVGQxk
Do you have a child who struggles with making mistakes? This is another fan favorite in my office: https://youtu.be/3gAUhGmDAig