“This is not perfect.” My daughter made the phrase famous in our family as a three year old. It’s something we all use to describe situations that disappoint or sometimes even anger us. But lately, it’s been taking on a new meaning for me.
My Flagstaff Moms Blog bio brags that I “let go of perfection to relax and embrace the crazy.” But did I really?
“The Perfect Mom”
Honestly, it was easy to let go of trying to be the perfect mother, thanks to the many, many pioneering women who made it okay. While I have friends and family who thank me for my transparency and lighthearted approach to motherhood, I’m no pioneer in this field.
But…the perfect ME?
That’s another story, and one I’m compelled to share because I bet I’m not alone.
Growing up, if I tried something and wasn’t naturally amazing at it – I quit. Because it was NOT perfect.
I was BORN with this mentality. I didn’t have parents who demanded anything of me other than to enjoy life. I just didn’t see the point of doing something if I wasn’t going to do it flawlessly. Oh I’d work hard to get even better at whatever I was a “natural” at. And gosh was it fun…but I have a long laundry list of things I never really tried because I wasn’t a star out the gate: soccer, softball, skiing, art, math (cough).
I stayed in my lane and excelled, confident in my abilities. Until, that is…two years ago.
That’s when I decided to go for my lifelong dream…to be a writer. Not a blogger or a public relations and marketing whiz (of which I am both) but a real novelist. I had a story in my heart and wrote like the wind to churn out a 90,000 word novel in less than a year.
Oh was I excelling. Oh was I a natural. But, oh, was I delusional.
I went to my first writer’s conference, unedited manuscript available for agents. And one gave me the news no perfectionist can handle:
“This is NOT perfect.”
Actually, she said, “Your craft is weak.” Ouch!
And like any good perfectionist, I obsessed and held onto that one phrase instead of the other constructive feedback she provided. And let me tell you, it jumpstarted all my perfectionist tendencies.
Instead of giving myself grace and allowing myself to be a novice writer, I decided I needed to fix it – right now. But silly me, I don’t know how to fix it. I tried…once…and sent it to some for-hire editors who let me know it was still NOT perfect.
From dream chaser to quitter.
Frustrated and not perfect, I’ve quit writing. I burned my first printed and marked up manuscript during a family campfire – to which my mother shrieked that I’d lost it forever and I had to explain how the electronic copies are still safely stored on my computer.
The really sad thing is that people, some very talented people, really love my novel – the imperfect mess that it is. But my perfectionism is getting in the way of ever making it great.
Last night in the car, on the way to my son’s first baseball game of city tournament, I told my 10 year old son, “just do your best and don’t quit out there.”
He nodded, then thoughtfully said, “you can’t quit on your writing either mom.”
I about burst into tears.
I need to learn to persevere.
In hindsight, I wish I’d really tested that whole “let go of perfection” more before chasing the ultimate dream in my life. Like…maybe I should have tried skiing again and persevered through the embarrassing moments.
But it’s not too late. It’s never too late. And I’m sharing my “Top 3” to-do list for kicking perfection’s butt.
- I’m going back to barre3, where I have always felt welcome but have a hard time not looking in the mirror at my not perfect body.
- I’m going to take up a completely new hobby and probably embarrass myself, but stick with it. Suggestions please.
- I’m going to keep writing, every damn day. I’m happy when I keep sunrise writing hours.
The bottom line…this is NOT perfect, but it’s a start.
I don’t want to live life quitting things because I’m not perfect.
And I hope my little story of defeat is a good kick in the ass for anyone else trying to overcome perfection…especially anyone trying to raise tiny humans to never quit, while they themselves are quitting on things that really matter.
Will you join me? I’d love if everyone reading this blog who KNOWS they’re a perfectionist, tried and shared just ONE thing they wanted to do and their “This is NOT perfect” story. Whether it’s a comment here, or a posted pic with the hashtags #FlagstaffMomsBlog and #NOTperfect.
You’ll have more people cheering for you than you can imagine. And I’ll be right up front, both cheering for and getting inspired by each of us trying to send perfection packing.
Much Love – H