This post is a bit of a rehash of one I wrote four years ago because I’m noticing perfectionism surfacing once again.
I think if I’m perfect then other people will love me. This is kind of a problem because I’m not perfect. Even more damaging is the fear that if I make a mistake or do something wrong, that love will be taken away from me. That means every time I make a mistake I’m scared I’ll be abandoned.
Yikes. That means there’s a whole lot of pressure to never make a mistake and always do the right thing. In this context, it makes sense why if I send the wrong email attachment or tell a fib, my freakout is not on par with the event itself because the whole thing becomes much more serious.
I’ve written before about mistakes being the zest of life, which I think is true. I honestly believe mistakes are part of the learning process, and nothing beats the expansive feeling that comes from learning. At the same time, I’ve felt a desire to be perfect right out of the gate. To know everything immediately. To be a star pupil. To be an award-winning writer. To know how to invest my money and become a millionaire. I want to know right now and I want to do it perfectly. Otherwise you won’t love me or continue to love me.
What’s interesting is I don’t feel the same way about other people. Other people are allowed to be flawed human beings who make mistakes and I love them just the same. But me? Pssst. I hold myself to a different standard.
That’s not cool and it also doesn’t make much sense because perfection does not guarantee love. I called a perfect show as a stage manager and no one seemed to notice or really care. Even when I do things “perfectly” it doesn’t seem to make a difference. And you know? It never will because perfection is not a requirement for love.
In fact, a friend told me once perfection is scary. When he meets seemingly perfect women, he’s intimidated because he can’t relate to them. It’s our flaws that make us likable because it’s just as C.S. Lewis said: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
People will never love me more because I’m an all-star or never do anything wrong. People love me for who I am, not because I never make mistakes. I am allowed to send the wrong email attachment because there is no inverse relationship between the mistakes I make and how much I’m loved. I can be, and am, loved no matter what. I already know that’s true for others and it’s time to make it true for me.
I dream of a world where we realize love is associated with who we’re being, not what we’re doing. A world where we experience unconditional love all the time. A world where we allow ourselves to make mistakes because we know love will still be there. A world where we let go of our outdated beliefs and ideas because they no longer serve us. A world where we know perfection is not a requirement for love.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.