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What I Learned After Breaking Free From My 'Pattern of Perfection'

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I don’t want things to be perfect. I just like them done in a particular way that is “right.”

I have always said those words in school group projects, at work and even at home. I’ve always been organized, always wanting things to “be” a certain way.

I first noticed my pattern of perfection in high school. I would wake up two hours early just to do my hair and iron my uniform. I had the perfect outer appearance, the perfect laugh and my work was impeccable. None of it was truly “me,” just a character I thought I needed to portray. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself but if you’re doing it for others, that’s a problem.

I had that problem. I wanted to be perfect so no one could see just how “messed up” I really was.

This pattern followed me into the work world, too. I was an overachiever, a go-getter, a self-starter — so organized, so punctual and just so darn good at every task.

I was the token black girl. I was the ever-helpful one, always smiling and down for the cause. The pattern of perfection was great for others but I was slowly deteriorating and losing myself in the process.

I was putting too much on myself. I was too agreeable, not communicating my boundaries and doing more than my body allowed. I neglected myself to be the perfect person. I learned I was a highly-functioning individual. I also learned I’m not perfect. And I won’t ever be perfect, which is a tough thing to realize and internalize when you’ve been trying to do it your whole life.

I’ve learned you have to go slower than what you’re used to. I have to take breaks. I have to break promises. I have to decline what I think is other’s perception of me.

It’s hard to break a pattern and even harder to start a new one. Instead of this pattern of perfection I’m on, I’m trying a pattern of progress. Progress isn’t going to get me to perfect, but it will get me to grow. Growing to the realization of who I truly am — the real me, the honest me, the wholehearted me.

This article is for all of us who are in this pattern of perfection. Perfection is not the goal, no matter what the world tells us. Progress, growth and change are what we need to focus on instead.

Life is already hard enough, so we have to be ourselves before we are anything else. We have to continue this journey of progress, not perfection.

Getty Images: skyNext

Originally published: October 25, 2019
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