There was a time in my life when I celebrated being the Type A/Perfectionist individual that I spent my life being. Those days are slowly diminishing. Today, I practise embracing who I am, while working to alter the need to attain perfection. I have come to the realization that perfection just does not exist.
Not too long ago, I was reminded of the personal work I still need to do in this area when I received some feedback about last week’s blog that I published. In that blog post, I was writing about a little boy named Chase whom I connected with on a profound level. In the post, I indicated that we were “two pees in a pod.” As, a) a teacher b) a writer and c) a recovering perfectionist, there is no doubt in my mind that I knew this should have appeared as, “two peas in a pod.” Yet somehow, in my millionth read-over, multiple edits, and then re-edits, I still missed the typo!!
You see, each week this little personal blog comes your way. Although I hope that it appears to arrive to you as though it was created in an effortless fashion, I will let you in on a little secret – I agonize over it (said in a whisper). I scrutinize over every last period, comma, adjective and idea. Don’t get me wrong, I love to write and quite often when I am in ~ the ~ flow, so is my writing. What happens between the written draft and the publish button however, is a different story. I must go over my writing a million times. A little tweak here and little tweak there. A little re-write here and a little re-write there. From what should be a few hours, turns into what feels like an eternity.
When I shared the story of my typo with my partner, he giggled and said, “That’s funny.” Pees in a pod! Ha ha. But to me, this was a catastrophe. My work was now published, placed on every form of social media possible and for all to see. Everyone would see my flaws and even worse, everyone would see that I’m flawed. Ouch. I noticed throughout the day, after this typo had been pointed out to me, that I was perseverating on the issue in what seemed like a ridiculous manner. The damage was done, so what was I to do with this now?
Accept. Learn. Forgive. Grow. Adapt. Move on.
Ok, so some of you might think I’m crazy at this point and may even be questioning my authority on mindfulness and your trust in reading this crazy lady’s blog anymore. Yes, it was a simple typo, that many of you might have even skipped right over. Why point it out then, right? And why freak out over it? Well, the typo is a representation of the aspects of myself that require more attention and awareness and perhaps more work and additional growth.
I realize that when I make a mistake, I am extremely hard on myself. I can be unforgiving of myself in the moment and ashamed that it exposes my flaws. But there will always be more mistakes, more flaws, and more oversights.
If I continue to treat these errors in a way that is damaging to my whole self, my “self” will not be very whole.
What’s the best way to get over it? Well, I chose to be vulnerable in the situation, to point out my mistakes and flaws to the whole world (o.k. just my readers, but you feel like the whole world to me :)). From here, I accepted that I made a mistake. I learned that it is o.k. because all humans make mistakes and from this I was able to forgive myself and demonstrate some personal growth. Perhaps down the line, I will be able to adapt to my mistakes more readily, as my awareness will bring me back to this prior experience. Now, I can move on.
There is so much perfection to our imperfections. The gift is that we are able to constantly strive for a better “self.”
This experience has also gifted me with a better sense and understanding of my fellow Type A/Perfectionist students. I watch the inner struggle within kids who strive to achieve to their highest degree and punish themselves when they feel it just isn’t good enough. These are gains for me as an Educator. I can hopefully help my students to avoid years of suffering and equip them with some tools to feel good when they are not feeling good enough. It is my intent to help students to feel successful in all the little steps along the way and to help them recognize the gifts of their own (Im)perfections.
If asked in an interview to share both my greatest strength and my greatest weakness, I would share the story of my recovering perfectionist addiction. I have always been the individual that sets my sights high and places enough pressure on myself to ensure that I strive to achieve these goals. Being a ‘perfectionist’ has helped me to do this. On the other hand, this trait has shown me my shadow side, the side which needs a little more love and a little more understanding. As a result, I have been blessed all along with the gifts of (im)perfection.
As I completed this week’s blog, I dug a little deeper into my soul, healed another aspect of my being, and only re-read this post a million-minus-one times – for any (Im)perfections 🙂
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The fear of making mistakes can keep a person from even trying. It has slowed me down when I’m outside my comfort zone, like playing my ukulele for anyone over the age of 5 years old. I applaud you for bringing up this topic “perfection to our imperfections.” As an educator, we help kids learn to manage these feelings of imperfection. By working on it ourselves, we teach by imperfect example, which IMHO is the easiest way to learn from someone.
As a blogger, I’ve added one other step, the fixing phase, perhaps as part of adapting you talked about. I constantly edit my blog after I’ve posted to fix my mistakes, update the posts, and clarify ideas. Some sentences that make sense at 2 am turn into gibberish in the light of day!
Thank you for your honest and candid feedback. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I really believe that as educators, we must practise what we preach. As I always say with mindfulness in general – we can’t teach children to be mindful if we do not work on that trait within ourselves first. I appreciate the step you have added and it gives me comfort to know that other bloggers are constantly in the ‘editing’ stage too!
I would listen to you play the ukulele any time 🙂