Since writing my last post, my mind has been in overdrive trying to determine what to write today. I want it to be perfect - but perfection is not real. To say it took a long time to come to terms with that is an understatement. Honestly, it's something I still struggle with believing from time to time. So here it goes - my raw, imperfect second blog post.
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a client about perfectionism. How sometimes, those with perfectionist tendencies, might decide not to step outside their comfort zone because of fear of failing. If you fail - then you aren't perfect...and that is something that a perfectionist simply can't handle - not being perfect.
Hello, my name is Jessica, and I am a perfectionist!
Sometimes, I wonder how we get here. I mean there are so many of us — people who strive to be perfect in everything we do. We get a new job, and we have to show we are the BEST. At least, that's always been my story. I wonder - did it have anything to do with the phrase -"If you are going to do something, then do it right." I'm sure mine did. I grew up in a small town in East Tennessee. My mom was, and still is, continually reminding my sister and me that she wants things to be better for us than they were for her. I was the first of many cousins to finish high school and then go to college. Even though at 18, I had no clue what the real world looked like or what I wanted to be when I grew up. [Side rant: We need to stop making her children go straight to college after they graduate high school. At 18, how can you decide what you want for the rest of your life when you haven't even lived yet. End Rant]
Along the road of trying to be "better" and not letting anyone down - I started becoming obsessed with being perfect. With that struggle, came anxiety that I was going to fail. Then that anxiety BLEW up! I just knew what felt like the world was resting on my shoulders, and I was afraid I would drop it at any time. It was up to me to succeed and show that I COULD make a difference. That difference came at a price. I struggled greatly. I became extremely anxious and depressed, which made my depression worse because my motivation for being the best was too overwhelming, which made me stay in bed.
"If you are in bed, how can you be bettering yourself" were my thoughts daily. So, with the first year of college came a 2.0 GPA. I knew that I had let my family, myself, and my inner perfectionist down - but I was feeding my anxiety monster. It grew so big after that. I eventually learned how to deal with my anxiety. Feeding it here and there throughout my day, but putting a straight face on so no one knew my struggles. I mean, you shouldn't struggle if you are the best, right?
Then the real world hit. I moved to Nashville, got a great job and that little voice came back - "Show them how great you are!", "You should never be satisfied with being at the bottom!" "You have to be better than me, and better than me is being the head of the department!" Once again, my anxiety hit - and it hit hard! I was calling out of work because I just couldn't get out of bed. I felt like a ton of bricks were laying on my shoulders. I HAD to do something different.
I found a counselor, and we talked about my past and my present - which only seemed to make my anxiety and depression worse. All those moments or thoughts that caused me to get where I was currently, continually brought to the forefront of my mind. So I decided to do something that I NEVER thought about doing before - Hypnosis. It was a fantastic experience, and it truly opened me up both emotionally and spiritually. I was able to see things differently - finally!
That was approximately five years ago. To say there aren't days that I still don't struggle with that little perfectionist voice in my head, would be a lie. I do - but it's different. I now have a different support system, whether that's meditation or making the space to connect with myself. It took some time for that little girl from Jamestown to know who she was, and stop allowing that negative inner dialogue control her.
This year, on Halloween, I will turn 36 - I am so different than that 18 yr old self. Even so, I have decided that I am going to start stepping out of my comfort zone even more! I can see that I still allow that perfectionism sometimes to control me in ways that it shouldn't. "If I'm not going to be perfect - then I will learn from someone who knows better than me!" will be my inner dialogue going forward!
If you are still reading this, thank you! I ask that you take steps to change your inner dialogue - whatever it may be. Meditation is a great source, along with journaling. We have to have those moments where we can be with ourselves, and feel what we feel. Stop trying to push it under the rug - emotions and feelings do not belong there!
A little reminder: meditation doesn't always look like sitting on the floor in complete silence. Go outside for a walk - without music - and feel the different terrain beneath your feet, see the beauty that surrounds you. Sit down, and color or play a puzzle. Meditation is merely getting your mind to surrender to something else other than your thoughts.
As for me, I am not sure what 36 has to offer, or even the rest of my life - but I do know that I've spent too much of my life listening to my inner dialogue and it's time to live truly!