Anti-Perfectionism


The Head of School took me to lunch early in my career as a teacher and cautioned me against perfectionism. She said, "It will extinguish your light."

I was aware that what she had said was the truth, and also that I wasn't ready to give it up. I would cling to the illusion of control for several years after that.

In recent months, discussions and warnings about the dangers of perfectionism have been floating around in my space. I had casually glanced at a few enlightened thoughts about it, nodding my head a little and smiling. 

And then I read this:

Perfectionism is our most compulsive way of keeping ourselves small, a kind of psychoemotional contortionism that gives the illusion of reaching for greatness while constricting us into increasingly suffocating smallness.  -Ursula K. Le Guin
(found on BrainPickings.org "16 Elevating Resolutions for 2016 Inspired by Some of Humanity's Greatest Minds")

Ooooh, now I get it. 

And then I READ THIS:


When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.  
-from Brené Brown's Daring Greatly.  She also has an entire book called The Gifts of Imperfection. Worth reading.

Ouch. Now I really get it.

I had never linked perfectionism and narcissism. That revelation sank in for a few more months during which I noticed how different I am from the person who sat across from her boss at the lunch table that day so many years ago.

I am going to celebrate my release of perfectionism as a huge step toward being happy as-is. 

You probably can't know that you're worthy of joy if you're hung up on an impossible image of yourself. Instead of being paralyzed and afraid of putting a crack in the facade, you just stop sucking it in. You exhale and smile.




3 comments:

  1. I call myself a "recovering perfectionist." It still roars its ugly head frequently, and I keep practicing in my recovery:). Great quotes.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment! Yes, a "recovering perfectionist" is a great explanation.

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  2. I call myself a "recovering perfectionist." It still roars its ugly head frequently, and I keep practicing in my recovery:). Great quotes.

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