Perfection. What comes to mind when you hear this word? Flawlessness? Doing everything correct? Being unable to be who you are because of a constant pressure from society to be the ideal person you have been characterized as? Trust me, you are not alone. Merriam-Webster defines perfection as, “the quality or state of being perfect such as freedom from fault or defect, maturity, the quality or state of being saintly.” No one, and I repeat, NO ONE is perfect. We all screw up, mess up, and do things that we regret. However, this is what makes us human. This imperfection makes us who we are.
Worthless or Worthy? Society’s Pressure for Girls to be Perfect, How to Overcome it
I’m sure every person who is reading this will read the above paragraph and think “yeah, I’ve heard this before, and it doesn’t help.” Which I also know because I AM one of those girls. I feel the constant pressure to be perfect, and to be the best at everything. It is an internal drive that I have. I constantly think, “if I am not going to be the best at this-then there is no point in doing it.” I feel the desire to achieve success in everything due to the expectations set in place when I was younger that I was expendable.
I strived for perfection in all of my curriculars because in my head, if I was not successful, then I was worthless. No one wanted to hang out with someone who was “second-rate”. When I did not achieve what I felt I needed to, I drove myself into a severe depression. I felt like life itself was meaningless. This feeling will never go away. In my 19 years of living, I have never not felt the need to be perfect.
Perfection Pressure: Brought on or born into?
This pressure is something that I felt was brought on by society. Growing up in a small town, to be noticed or to even step outside of the “last name” bias. Without reaching perfection in each and every aspect of my life, it made me outcast in my school. This constant pressure is what I attribute to my feelings of perfection. Society tells us that we need to conform to what other people are doing, or their ideology of how one should act or perform.
This desire to please extended into all aspects of my life: school, basketball, friends, and work. The part of my life where it is the most evident is basketball. I hold myself to an extremely high standard; when I miss a shot or do something incorrectly, I beat myself up about it (probably more harshly than I should). It takes me a second to remember that it is okay to make a mistake every so often.
In college, this feeling did not simmer down. If anything it amplified. I had this fear that I would not be successful in my major and that I would not make friends. An overwhelming fear dangled over my head during my first semester: if I did not act perfect, I would not make friends nor would I fit in.
Mindset is Everything
What changed to help me be successful? My mindset towards how I perceive my need for perfection. I set long term goals with smaller steps in-between each and every milestone. Finding smaller, more manageable goals that allow me to use my drive for perfection towards good. I look at my designated timeline and think “okay, this is the first step in achieving my dream _____.”
I also find it necessary to affirm myself daily that I am not expendable and that I am worthy. As a visual person, I write them down so I can stick to them and see it every day. Daily affirmations may seem stupid and not necessary. However, for someone who holds themself to the highest standard possible, hearing someone you respect (aka yourself) tell you that you are worthy and that you are capable of anything gives you a boost of confidence and a feeling of euphoria you may have not had before. One recommendation is this collection of powerful and thoughtful quotes and affirmations to help inspire you on your journey through life is Shine On: Empowering Affirmations for Extraordinary Women
Yes―you can change your life by changing your thoughts. In A Year of Positive Thinking, you’ll transform your mindset to create positive life changes―one thought, one day, and one year at a time. Another great resource is I ACCEPT MYSELF NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. with 2,494 Positive Affirmations to Overcome Anxiety, Manifesting Tranquility, Success, Love, and Self-Esteem. Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy is another great book to inspire you to take the time to invest in yourself. Really, it comes down to Finding the Courage to Make the change in your life and putting your health and happiness as the main priority.
I have found that writing down my personal goals has helped me. Reflecting on the day in a journal can also help you realize your self-improvement throughout the years and make you recognize all the little wins you had throughout the day!
The Five Minute Journal:is a great place to get started. The simple guided format will allow you to organize your thoughts to start and/or end your day happier. If you are looking for something a little more in depth that really will make you hit the breaks, Present, Not Perfect: A Journal for Slowing Down, Letting Go, and Loving Who You Are will really help you get in the mindset to set yourself free. We also shared some tips for Journaling During Quarantine and Social Distancing that may be helpful for younger kids.
If you are looking for some a free resource, check out this free printable Recognizing You Have Value Worksheet
3 Affirmations that help shift your mindset away from the feeling of being absolutely perfect
Tell yourself the following things every day, and you’ll notice a difference in yourself:
- “I am always important, no matter what other people tell me”
- “I am worthy, and will always be enough”
- “I may not be perfect, and not all things will fall into place the way I hoped they would—but that does not make me expendable, second-rate, or unworthy of love/companionship”