The Beauty of Being "Good Enough"
I once stayed up all night doing extra credit in order to beat a classmate and win first place in our class. It was second grade so this was serious business. I sustained myself on cinnamon Pop Tarts and skim milk as the sun slowly rose on a blistery Indiana winter morning. All that hard work and my classmate ended up beating me. I was livid! Or at least as angry as a 9 year old can be about anything. I wanted so badly to be the best, to be perfect, that I nearly drove myself to childhood diabetes! All for recognition and the approval of my teacher. It didn't even come with a prize.
Oh the first world problems of being a perfectionist. It's not a huge problem, except when it is. When your quest to do everything 'right' or at least your definition of how things 'should' be is so strong that you forget about the negative consequences, then something is wrong. If you also experience strong anxiety when things are not perfect, then you definitely know what I mean.
I consider myself a 'recovering perfectionist.' That label has taken me 20 years to earn, but with it I have learned that life is so much better if you can just do things good enough. As in, do you best, do a good job, but don't make yourself crazy trying to set unrealistic standards. The problem with needing everything you do to be perfect is that it takes away from actually you know, enjoying you life! If your house has to be perfect then you inevitably spend a lot of time cleaning, not playing with your dog/kid/spouse. If your job has to be perfect, then you work longer hours than necessary and put off doing that class/hobby/dinner with friends you always say you'll do. If your relationship has to be perfect, then good luck because that will never happen. And trying to force happiness when there is conflict is not healthy.
People become complacent, get lazy, and generally screw up. But there is a difference between being all those things and doing a good enough job to be happy with your efforts. That is not lazy. And it's a much easier and happier way to live. If you continue to strive for perfection, you may miss out on actually living this 'perfect' life you want so badly.
I once told my husband that we could spend all out time and efforts building our dream house. But what if we wake up one day and there's no one in it? We wasted our time and attention on all the external things that we lost the family inside. That is the point of letting go of perfectionism. I wish I could go back and tell my 9-year old self, "Go to bed. It will be okay. You are a kid for such a short period of time. Enjoy it. You can worry about work in about 10 years." I would also caution against inhaling Pop Tarts because that did not turn out well for my waistline.
But alas, time moves forward not back and we can only learn from our mistakes. I just hope you can learn from mine and repeat my mantra when you find your perfectionist ways creeping back in as you obsess about cleaning the house spotless, making diner, nailing that presentation at work, AND running a 5K. All before 5pm. Let it go, it's good enough. Because it is, and so are you.