My marriage to perfection is something I’ve noticed all my life. It began early. I remember bringing home an elementary school report card and instead of a long line of A’s, a B – appeared in the middle of the row. This “blemish” on my grades made me nervous. Since then I’ve probably shed many tears over perceived and real imperfections regarding myself or various events in my life. In the same vain, many times rational thought makes an appearance and with some deliberation I realize my angst over a particular imperfection is not warranted. Most of the time, perfect or not, the dominoes fall in the exact right place.
In the last few years, I’ve dedicated myself to journaling and practiced meditation in efforts to try to let go and really lean into my life (even if it doesn’t go as I have mapped it out). I thought I’d made some important strides, but I learned during my sister’s wedding, I still have much-needed work in coping with imperfection. Small details like the placement of linens or that I forgot to put the exact right set of bangles on my daughter became magnified. “It has to be perfect. I want this day to be special for my sister.” I don’t know how many times I said that in head and out loud to myself or to those around me. But really, in retrospect, my obsession on miniscule details, was it really that important?
The short answer is no. My rational mind knew that what mattered was my sister’s happiness and the emotions she exchanged with her husband during their wedding day. If everything wasn’t perfect, what was the worst that could happen? Nothing really. I am disappointed that, at times, I got swallowed by my emotional response. In my efforts to assemble the perfect wedding day for my sister, I failed to internalize and accept the true nature of things. On the whole, life doesn’t carry itself in a linear fashion. There are surprises, some good and bad.
Embracing those imperfections becomes the true measure of really letting go. I am not there yet.
How do you handle imperfection? Do you dwell on it? Do you accept it? Any tips on trying to cultivate a more imperfect life?
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I hear you! I also have fought my life with imperfection…though I’ve gotten so much better I still find myself obsessing over unimportant things. What I do is remind myself thee small details are not important in the big scheme and that I’m probably the only one who notices them. The reminding helps me a lot.
I like the idea of keeping the imperfections small and not letting them get magnified in your head. You are probably right. The individual is the only one bothered by their own personal “imperfection.” Others are probably just focused on themselves. Thanks for weighing in.
I avoided dealing with my perfection issues by telling myself that they only affect me. Then, my 3 year old son started asking me to build construction trucks with his Legos. I obsessed about how to build them, downloading complicated instructions off the internet when all he wanted was something that sort of looked like a forklift. He just wanted me to play with him, not make a big project out of it! I realized that I was taking all the fun out of it.
Welcome! Kids can definitely teaches us all about letting go and making do. I’ve done craft projects with my daughter and she is the one who is coaching me saying, “Momma, it doesn’t need to be perfect.” Advice that seems to come when I needed it the most.
In my experience, there’s no need to “cultivate a more imperfect life.” All you have to do is look around. Imperfections are everywhere. My struggle continues to be with embracing my own imperfections. I tell my kids all the time: “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” Then why is it that I’m so hard on myself why I make a mistake?
I do the same thing. I find myself saying, “Don’t be afraid of mistakes. You learn from them.” Yet we all know the learning is so hard and getting through it always involves some kind of process. Sometimes you want to skip the process and just arrive.
Always a pleasure seeing you in my space.
Did you know that when the Amish quilt, they always place one piece incorrectly? Like the point will be upside down or the color of the fabric will be different than the others, etc. It’s an homage, of sorts, to their creator, in that only He is perfect. All we can do is our best…and I know that the older I get the more I let insignificant details go. You’ve already nailed it when you touched on life being about people, joy and relationships (and not the relationship of napkin placement to plate).
Thank you for sharing this about the Amish quilting. I love it.
Getting older has taught me to let more go, too. There’s freedom after 40!
I love the point you make about the Amish. That perfection is an ideal, a utopia of sorts, that is reserved for the creator.
It is continual work. But I take comfort in knowing that as I get older, I hope to develop a more let if flow attitude. As you point out, that becomes easy when the focus becomes connecting with people.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
We’re in the same perfectionist sandbox, Rudri. It’s such a pain in the ass. Like you, I’m trying to work on it.
Kitch, I am glad I share this with such extraordinary company. xoxo
I love this. I’ve struggled with perfectionism all my life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
A line my therapist uses frequently is “Progress, not perfection.” It’s a reminder that as long as I’m moving in the right direction, I’m doing what I need to do. I could work at one thing my entire life and still not be perfect at it. It’s part of living in an imperfect world. And there are so many things I want to be perfect at. I have to learn to accept improvements and be proud of them — another thing that’s difficult for me.
I mention this because I believe you are making progress. Maybe you weren’t perfectly in the moment for the whole wedding, but it sounds like you were for some moments. And you noticed it and are willing to try to change it. That’s progress right there. Being willing to say that it’s okay not to be perfect. Yes, there’s a difference between saying it and living it. But that’s how it starts. Questioning what we always thought we needed to be so that we can see a better way.
I needed this today. Thank you.
Stopping by from SITS. Have a great weekend.
Thanks so much for your generous comments. There is truth in focusing on progress. Maybe we never get to the standard we set for ourselves, but the point is to move forward. Accept the creases in our own plans and try to smooth them out as best we can. I am hoping my awareness of imperfection will pave the way for my acceptance of it.
So grateful that my words resonated with you today. I appreciate your words in my space.
Rudri, you are beautiful just the way you are. We are not meant to be perfect. Embrace all the wonderful qualities that you have. I know others see those qualities in you even if you don’t. Xo
I love your uplifting comment. We are all hard on ourselves. I am guilty of trying to focus on what isn’t instead of what is. I forget to be gentle on myself. Thanks for the reminder. xoxo
From the look of happiness on your sister’s face I can tell you that you did a great job in giving her away . Your dad is proud. Xo
Very thoughtful post. That perfectionism issue is so tough (for women especially?) – ironically, motherhood taught me to lighten up. That, and the realities of the business world.
I am struggling with this right now…and have been my whole life. I really want to be done with it but it’s so very difficult. I wish you much luck on your journey!