Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Perfect Problem

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

If any post has been as equally for me as it is for you, this may be the one. In fact, I have to be frank with you—I am writing this to myself and for myself since the genesis for these words came strictly from my own struggles.

A long time ago, someone once told me that trying to be perfect is like telling God his work of art isn’t good enough. That sort of stuck with me... It’s too bad that I didn’t actually process this message until last week—years, have you, after receiving this kernel of spiritual enlightenment.

If you knew me—and it’s safe for me to venture this characterization because I’ve heard it for longer than I’d like to admit—you might list words like perfectionist, type-A, and maybe even meticulous to describe my nature. If I am not fretting about one thing, I am probably fretting about another. It’s my “perfect” problem. I constantly feel like I’ve got something to prove, and in turn, I allow my actions and thoughts to be consumed by the need to please, by the need to be good enough.

At times, I am like the look-out in a pack of wolves: pensive, eager, and even paranoid. I’ve mulled over this idea a lot, and I’ve concluded that my look-out behavior stems from my reliance on myself and my perception of what others may or may not be thinking about me. I am mistaken, and I know it. But sadly, I keep making those mistakes, over and over again.

Why can't I shake this need to prove I am "good enough?" If I know my behaviors and thoughts are mistaken, why can’t I stop? Why can’t I just let go and let God? Why can’t I shrug off this “perfect” problem of mine?

I know what my mother would tell me: I’ve got to define myself through God’s perceptions of me and lean on God’s strength instead of my own. I know what my friends would tell me: “Who cares what other people think!”

And I hear them; I know they’re right. But I don’t know what to do next...

As I type this, I have no specific solutions for myself. There’s no action plan that will help me let my need for perfection go. Honestly, I don’t know how I will purposely be better tomorrow… If I did, I probably would have done it by now. I am sure the textbooks would tell me to retrain my mind. The devout would tell me to pray. The insightful would tell me to scale back and calm down. I know all these things too; I just don’t know why I can’t apply them in a real way to finally rid myself of this “perfect” problem.

I feel like an addict sometimes, and perfection, or rather the pursuit for perfection, is my drug. I grip the feelings and rituals I’ve associated with perfection like an eagle clenches its prey as he jets through the sky.

But maybe I am not alone in this boat. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve struggled with this too. In fact, my problem may hit home for many other woman today. Given the way this culture is, it might be safe to say that we are all consumed by the chase for that elusive perfection in one way or another.

Joseph Campbell, an American writer and philosopher best remembered for his mantra “Follow your bliss,” reminds us that the achievement of perfection is not perfect at all, explaining that “Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up.”

So in close, I must admit that I still don’t have the answers, but what I can say is that I plan on breaking myself up. I plan on stripping down the layers. I plan on introspection. I must be silent more and listen harder. What exact message I am listening for, I can’t say. I just know God’s voice will be carrying one of them. And in time, I hope that I will be able to dig deep enough so that I can confront my “perfect” problem and do away with it once and for all.


  1. Been there done that and trying not to do it anymore. Trying to be perfect leads to controlling not only yourself, but everyone in your life.

  2. I wish I could say the same. I have to hope that aging brings the wisdom and patience I need. Each year does get better, but I want to be able to simply lean on God and where I am right now, tuning out all the chatter. But it's hard to stop worrying about being judged and what other people are thinking...

  3. I've just downloaded iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.


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