Lifestyle · Spirituality

Perfectionism: A Silent Killer of Dreams

In my first blog post I made a joke that “I have a tendency to not make any move in any direction until I’m 250% sure that everything is perfect”. It was, of course, a little bit of an exaggeration, but only a little bit.

One of the things my father use to say to me when I was growing up is, “only the best is good enough”. Typically, this mini lecture followed the arrival of a report card with one too many B’s on it. I understand now what his intentions were. He simply wanted me to do my best and he probably felt that I could’ve done better. And frankly, I could’ve done better. However, after a while those words seeped into my sub-conscious and over time slowly transformed me into a perfectionist…to a degree. My perfectionism extended only to those things that I would have to present to others for critique or approval. When it came to things like my hairstyle, makeup or fashion choices, good enough was good enough.

When I was thirteen years old I decided I wanted to be a writer, at sixteen, an actor, at eighteen, a rock star and by twenty-two I wanted it all! I’m a dreamer, I always have been. But my dreams would always seem to crumble whenever I got to the point of presenting myself, and what I had to offer, to the world. I would stop myself at the moment just before the presentation and I’d pick it all apart and rip it to shreds, because I would tell myself, “only the best is good enough and this isn’t the best so therefore it’s just not good enough”. I did this over and over again. Systematically destroying my own dreams because I strived to reach an unrealistic goal of perfection that could not be reached in a million years. I ended up leaving a lot of my dreams by the wayside, deciding finally that I just didn’t have what it took to be “the best” at that particular thing and opting to save myself the trouble and the shame of being criticized for my laughable attempts to get it right. I was pretty tough on myself.

Many things changed after I met my boyfriend almost eight years ago. At the time I was back home, living in my father’s basement. I hadn’t had a job in over a year and my pride felt damaged beyond repair. I’d given up on every dream I’d ever had before ever really trying to achieve them. A couple of months after we’d started dating, my boyfriend gave me some advice that actually stemmed from his frustrations about my obvious disinterest in trying to do anything; my general disinterest in life. He told me, “You have to start somewhere and build from there”. It sounds so simple, right? But I’d never thought of it. Maybe that’s because I hadn’t wanted to think of it, but I didn’t want to lose the relationship we were building. That was my prime motivator at the time. So I decided to change a few things, starting with my way of thinking. I stopped waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect job, the perfect time of day, whatever the case might’ve been. I took on a “do it now” and a “do it anyway” approach to everything.

Within two months I was working again, as a cashier at Kmart. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was a job, after a year and a half without one. Within a year I’d enrolled in a Dental Assistant certification program. Again, this wasn’t my dream but I kept my boyfriend’s words in mind, eventually taking them and turning them into other words that resonated even more with me: “This is one step along the journey” and “I’m building a foundation for my dreams to stand on”.

It’s now almost eight years later. I’m running a small business and I’m writing again, with plans of publishing my first novel within a year. I stopped waiting for the perfect moment and although I still struggle with my need for perfection, it doesn’t stop me from trying, it doesn’t stop me from presenting to the world what I desire to. I do it every day now. Every time I ship an order out to a customer, there is this inner struggle about whether or not it’s good enough, if it’s the best. But I put my heart into the work—any work I do—and just trust that it’s good enough. So far, so good.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to do your best. That’s great! That’s the way it should be. However, it’s important to recognize the difference between wanting to do your best and wanting to be perfect. Perfection, in most cases, is practically impossible and highly improbable. If you keep waiting for the “perfect” time, the “perfect” moment or the “perfect” person, you’ll very likely be waiting forever. So just do it now! Do it anyway! You might very well be happier for it. Take care!

❤️Trace the Wolf Spirit❤️

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