Since Rebekah and I have launched The Drafting Desk, I’ve had a lot of conversations about perfectionism. Many of them go something like this:
“Oh, I’m not a perfectionist! You should see what my living room looks like right now.”
“Well, I’m not really a perfectionist. But I get what you’re saying about the people-pleasing thing.”
“Ugh. I WISH I could be more like that. I’m just so disorganized!”
The myth about perfectionism is that all perfectionists are Type-A, OCD, productivity-obsessed, high-achieving, neat and tidy people. Or that in a job interview, perfectionism is a good personality trait to casually drop into the conversation, as if it will illustrate a strong commitment to excellence.
Not so, friends.
Perfectionism, I believe, lurks within all our hearts and manifests itself in a slew of different ways.
At its core, perfectionism is a recognition that all is not right with me and within me, and then acting as though the onus is on me to fix that problem. The perfectionist is someone who has forgotten that only Jesus can heal us, only Jesus can give us full approval, only Jesus is in control.
Somewhere within us, we all have perfectionist tendencies, because the desire for “perfect” is actually a desire for life the way God originally intended it, back before the terrible lie snuck into the garden. The lie Eve fell for is the same lie that tells us no one will like us as we are, and especially not God. It’s the same lie that says we are not good enough, not productive enough, not attractive enough, not in control enough.
So, you might be a perfectionist if you lie to protect others’ opinions of you, get stuck on the hamster wheel of productivity, obsess over a neat and tidy environment, or beat yourself up over anything less than stellar performance. You might be a perfectionist if you lose sleep while replaying conversations, hold back your opinions for fear of losing approval, or feel plagued by a sense of failure. You might be a perfectionist if you’ve tried to earn your way toward love, grace, and acceptance. You might be a perfectionist if you hear a constant internal refrain of not enough, not enough, not enough.
Don’t get me wrong: For some of us, this is THE daily battle that dominates our hearts and minds, while others of us have made more peace with our brokeness and insufficiency. Some of us have learned to embrace our strengths and let go of impossible expectations. I’m the second person on some days, but I’m the first person more than I’d like to admit. I know I have a long, long way to go.
I want to live a life marked by freedom, joy, and grace–not striving, control, and comparison.
So, all month long, I’m going to share some of the ways I fight perfectionism. I’ll share the lessons I’ve learned from Scripture, the stories and quotes I try to remember, the personal mantras I repeat on a daily basis. I’ll also share some of the nitty-gritty, super practical things I do from time to time that put me back in the right frame of mind.
And as they say, the first step to overcoming a problem is, you know…admitting you have one.
I’m glad you’re here! I’m hoping it’s going to be a really awesome 31 days. You can find links to all the posts in this series here (or by clicking the “31 Days” link in the top menu). Tomorrow, I’ll share the simple paradigm shift that completely changed my understanding of perfectionism.