It's been about three months since I started feeling like a different person.
I feel lighter, like a huge weight that I've been carrying for way too long has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel free and I feel bold, as if I suddenly have what it takes to be whatever I want to be, and to do whatever I want to do.
What, you might ask, changed in the last few months?
Well, I've been reading a book called Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, about unveiling the mystery of a woman's soul. And earlier this week I finally got to Chapter Four titled, Wounded.
This chapter talks about the different ways women's souls are wounded when they are young girls, as well as the results of those wounds accompanied by some hypothetical examples.
One of these examples reads: "Debbie is always looking for something to work on. Prayer, exercise, financial responsibility, new hair colour, more discipline. Why is she trying so hard? Doesn't she know how amazing she is?" (Eldredge, 2005, p.69)
Not only was I surprised to come across my name in the book, but I was also shocked at how much I could relate to my namesake's plight!
Although I only read that statement a few days ago, it was actually around late last year when I started realizing that I was always working towards something. Don't get me wrong - I strongly believe in growth and its importance in our lives, hence my never-ending goal to have a goal, and to keep working towards becoming the best version of myself possible. However, it seemed as if I had a never-ending list of things that I needed to make 'right' about myself. If it wasn't one, it was the other...
My goal was no longer "to be better", but had slowly become 'to be perfect'.
It made my life miserable, but for a long time I couldn't connect the dots between why I was miserable and what it was that was making me feel like this. I didn't realize that it was me who was putting pressure on myself and, therefore, also me who could take that pressure away.
I eventually threw in the towel. And it was only then that I started realizing why I was always working towards something - I never felt like whatever I did was enough. I never felt like I was enough.
It turns out that it is actually much simpler than I thought it'd be. I'll break it down into four points:
1. Accept defeat: on the face of it, this may not sound like good advice. But in this situation, it turned out to be the best course of action for me. Once I accepted that I would never be able to meet the unrealistic standards that I held for myself, the metaphorical chains fell off and, for the first time in a long time, I felt free! I realized that 'Being perfect' has its setbacks, as it would be impossible to maintain that kind of lifestyle anyway. So it wasn't worth attaining in the first place.
2. Verbally affirm yourself: as I was going through this transformation, I came across an interesting talk on Youtube by a psychologist called Marisa Peer. In this talk, she was addressing the problem of not feeling like you're enough. One piece of advice that she gives to counter this feeling is to start verbally affirming yourself. She said it was something that would have to be done regularly before it started taking effect. Since watching it, I try to verbally remind myself that "I Am Enough" as often as I can. And I've found that the more I say it, the more I believe it.😊
3. Praying when you feel uncertain: I'm not going to lie. The high you get when you say those words to yourself doesn't last forever. I still have my bad days, days when I feel inadequate, or like I could be doing more. On these days, I pray. I've found God to be faithful in showing me in His own special way that I am indeed enough - be it through a random word of encouragement from a friend or a bible verse, or an unexpected call or text from a loved one that makes me feel special. And I don't doubt that He'll do the same for you if you ask Him to. 😉
4. Lastly, enjoy being imperfect: if anyone had ever told me how fun being imperfect was, I doubt I'd have ever tried to be otherwise (Yeah right, one can dream though. Lol! ). I am now living without questioning every step that I take - and it feels wonderful! 😃I occasionally mess up, make mistakes, fall (metaphorically speaking), but I get up again, and by the end of the day I feel more alive than I've ever felt before. There's a saying that goes, "We were made to be real, not perfect." And for the first time in my life, I feel like I understand the essence of it. It's through our being real that we can truly live and connect with other people. And there's honestly nothing more worthwhile than that.😊
Regardless of my newfound freedom, I still have goals that I'm working towards. But I am now working towards them in a different way. For one, I am setting realistic standards for myself; secondly, I celebrate each achievement, no matter how small; and most importantly, I show myself empathy whenever things don't go as planned. I've found that this kind of attitude breeds better and longer-lasting results than striving for perfection does.
If you're a perfectionist like I was, I hope this post helps you realize how unhealthy it can be for you, and also helps you to let go of it. I strongly believe that the decision to do so will change your life for the better - just like it did for me. 😊