“Perfectionism is a self-destructive belief system. is. ~Brene Brown
I have had a hard time trying new things in the past. Growing up, I learned that failure is bad. I used to be a gifted kid who was a little ahead of his peers. Everything went downhill as I got older.
Whenever I tried a new activity, if I couldn’t perfect it right away, I would quit. Even the slightest imperfection makes me very frustrated and upset. I used to cling to the same mistakes in the past over and over again.
This caused me to procrastinate and avoid trying new things out of fear of failure. There is no such thing.”
I tried different passion projects, focusing only on results. Sketching was a fun hobby of mine, but it was slowly losing momentum. “All the pictures I’m drawing are bad! Gugh!”
I challenged myself to a public speaking contest. “Didn’t you get the prize? This is such a waste.”
And I lost interest in sports because my friends dominated me in games.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a clear example of unhealthy perfectionism.
Growing up, I thought I was good at everything. I am proud to embody this identity. However, when I did something that conflicted with this identity, such as failing at something, I did everything I could to avoid feeling that pain again. Even if it meant that I was afraid of failure my whole life.
Now that I’ve grown internally, I’ve come to realize that perfectionism is really about controlling yourself. Perfectionism, at its core, is about gaining approval and acceptance.
“Perfectionism is not about trying to do your best or striving for excellence. Healthy striving is internal, perfectionism is external, simple and all is driven by consuming questions: “What will people think of me?” ~Brené Brown
Studies show that perfectionism actually blocks your path to success, leading to anxiety and depression. Perfectionism kills curiosity.
Rather than spinning the wheels and getting stuck when you were struggling to reach your high standards, figure out how to move on and bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be over time. I learned that it is better to strive for perfection in everything today.
Curing my unhealthy perfectionism and embracing authenticity, I think, largely came down to grace.
I accepted and gave grace to be where I am on the day and to enjoy the process more than the result. This was a big turning point in my life. I didn’t want to live with fear anymore, so I vowed to live honestly and be free.
I stopped putting pressure on myself and released my childlike curiosity. I became adventurous and started trying new things. Every time I did something outside of my comfort zone (and a little bit scary) it made me want to jump with excitement.
It’s about growing from failure and enjoying the journey instead of trying to do everything perfectly.
I practiced mindfulness, self-love and gratitude to further improve my mental state. I realized that I longed for the approval of the outside world, despite my previous denial and “I don’t care what others think” attitude. I used to care about how others judged me, so I focused on building a relationship with myself and loving myself for who I am.
Of course, the change didn’t come immediately, and it took me some time to fully heal my perfectionism. By speaking kindly to myself, as if I was my younger self, I slowly began to change my thought patterns. I imagined myself as a young child in need of love and acceptance. I forgave myself when I made a mistake, let go of the past, and move on.
I encouraged myself to keep improving, kept working on the projects I was passionate about, and showed up every day. Now it has brought me here so that I can share my guidance and love with those who need it.
And I know that just because I failed doesn’t mean I failed. It means I am a person who is brave enough to try new things, and it is an identity that I am proud to embody.