08 Feb Little Miss Perfectionist
I have always been a perfectionist. It has been how I approached life from a very young age. Due to Cerebral Palsy I knew as a little girl I was not perfect physically and would get very frustrated when my body wouldn’t cooperate with what I wanted to do. All in an effort of having a semblance of normal life. The more I tried to involve myself and came up short, my anger and resentment grew for a disability I couldn’t ditch, although I tried. The worst was sport, or any athletic ability for that matter, including my favourites of dance and swimming. My family is sporty, or at least my Dad’s side is, and I too badly wanted to be.
That’s where the origin of my perfectionist comes from. Of wanting to fit in. Of wanting to be loved and accepted. Of wanting to be admired for an achievement, an accomplishment.
As I got a little older I approached schooling in the same way, never being truly satisfied. Perfectionism ruled my relationships with my family and friends. I had to be the perfect friend, sister, daughter, etc.
In my head I knew no one was perfect, but in my heart I was urging myself to be more. It is a place of immense pressure and anxiety. Sure that one wrong move would be catastrophic in the stakes of love and acceptance. I was my own worst critic with expectations just out of my reach. I did not expect others to live like this (I would still love them regardless) but I could not say the same for myself.
Fast forward to 2016 when I hit rock bottom and deliberately chose to tentatively start loving myself. Then July 18th 2016, the night I finally knew in my heart that Jesus truly loved me, just as I am. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt incredible joy and peace, but mostly I felt free. That freedom flowed into every part of me and out into the areas of my life. Then in the past few months I found out for myself that I am NOT a burden to my family and friends.
These moments had amazing effects. For the first time I felt I could relax in so many different ways – I no longer get to the same level of anxiety over parties and I love myself more than I could have imagined. It reduced my perfectionist trait by addressing the source. It also had added bonuses of reduced anxiety, more happiness and more confidence.
Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
Yet when I was preparing to share part of my story recently, I really struggled with my talk needing to be perfect. It caused a lot of anxiety because I felt I had to live up to the response of the previous times I have shared. As I was traveling in the car on Friday, due to speak on Sunday, I realised (light bulb moment) that each time I had shared previously something (or multiple things) had not gone according to how I prepared. Like when the chair I sat on to share my story was so slippery I had to keep readjusting, all the while wondering whether I would finish sharing on the floor! It was a huge relief for me when I didn’t; but also knowing that God had it covered. You see Jesus and I prepare together, present together and then the rest is up to Him. I can’t control everything. I can have plans and contingencies but we are human after all.
Speaking on February 4th went well although not perfect (surprise, surprise). I used a microphone on a stand for the first time which was freaky as I usually have a microphone attached to me and the hosts either forgot or didn’t feel it necessary to do a sound check – moral of the story everyone has different views of how things should be done, just be flexible.
So I guess this week is a story of how my perfectionist character trait has over time lessened to be just one part of me, not an all-consuming focus. I want to encourage you to never give up on yourself in the areas you struggle, progress can happen little by little.