Today I experienced one of the most profound lessons I think I will ever learn – I will never be perfect. I was talking with one of the people I cherish most in the world, and I was so blessed by our exchange. This person came to me in love, to let me know I had hurt them. While I was upset with myself for having done, said, or engaged in anything that would hurt anyone, let alone someone I love so much, I was equally grateful for this being’s strength and love to stand up for themselves to let me know I was not doing my part as a friend.
This opened up a transformational dialogue that allowed me to understand how I could be a better partner in a loving platonic or romantic relationship, and how I could be a better version of myself. This was one of the most loving exchanges I’ve ever had, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to evolve in such a powerful way. After a tearful release, I realized the futility of my own personal pursuit of perfection, opening me up to an area of myself that was ready to be purged and rewritten.
When I was younger (much younger 😉 ), people used to call me Polly Perfect. While there are worse things to be called, and I’ve definitely been called a few unsavory things in my time, it created a standard in my head that I must always maintain or else I am simply not a worthy being. Can you see the self-destructive process already?
I began setting up Herculean feats for myself to accomplish, which I never seemed to quite complete. I had to look perfect, act perfect, be compliant, never cause a problem, be the best at everything I did, have perfect grades, be the best sister, be the best daughter, be the best friend, be the best problem solver, and by golly would something awful happen if I didn’t take on everyone else’s problems as my own. As you can see, this never-ending list of pursuits is largely illogical and driven by two simple things – the fear of abandonment and the fear of being unlovable.
This process began as a child, and a rather small one at that. I have always been much smaller than the majority of my peers, and growing up as the middle child in a full house where everyone was extremely intelligent, talented, and beautiful, meant I had to be louder and better to get noticed…at least this was the illusion I convinced myself of.
I developed charming traits that came quite naturally from my positive and loving nature, such as bubbliness, severe obedience, and theeagerness to please others. These personality additions seeped into my interactions with everyone I met well into my adulthood. I learned early on people enjoy interacting with Happy Polly versus regular Polly, and even though I am a natural optimist, I began to convince myself that I was happy all the time. To be anything less than joyous would surely result in being less of a person.
I quickly amassed an immense amount of responsibility rather young, and I began to predicate my personal value on how many things I could handle at one time, how much other people liked me, and if my behavior was approved of. These may not seem like bad or negative things; however, looking at this list of derivative value, it is very clear to me now that I acquired worth purely from people and things outside of myself. It wasn’t long before the pressure from the pursuit of perfection became self-destructive.
A barrage of traumas and a few abusive relationships later, I found myself lost, alone, and still searching for the need to be perfect. I couldn’t understand how I had gotten to that place. I was genuinely kind, smart, loving, and wanted so desperately to give the world to everyone in my life. What went wrong? Of course, I knew the answer…I wasn’t perfect enough. There must be some sort of naturally occurring flaw that must be marring me, because how else could I have messed up my life so royally? It wasn’t until a couple years later, when I hit my mid-20s, that I discovered the answer.
I had given a piece of myself away every time I placed perfectionism before my own wellbeing. With every well-intentioned, yet displaced, action, word, and thought, I was fractioning my sense of self. I truly believed that if I was not perfect, then I was completely unlovable, and no one would want to be part of my life for very long.
Universal laws being what they are, my beliefs about being abandoned and unloved had a tendency to show up often. Even though I had an
affinity for succeeding at everything I set my mind to, I felt this perpetual pull into an emptiness I couldn’t explain. Thus, the divide between my true identity and the distorted idealism I was striving for grew, throwing me into the rocky trenches of an awakening.
Awakenings are not always as fun or as cheer-filled as they sound. Conversely, most of mine have been filled with an immense amount of challenge as my paradigms shifted. This one was a little different though. It took about five minutes for this new awareness to fill me, and I had to laugh at myself for how silly I’d been up to now. I look at people from all walks of life every day, and I see their beauty. I am not oblivious to imperfection, but rather, find the beauty in the duality of the experience. Creatures that are capable of so much love, are also capable of so much destruction; but it is the triumph of the human spirit over the duality they have been immersed in that makes me fall in love with them over and over again. Their strength, determination, courage, and capacity for passionate kindness is what makes them so loveable; not their ratio of perceived light to dark.
This is truth about perfectionism. The human experience is not about ushering myself towards this ideal of transcendent purity that will finally make me worthy of love and all forms of abundance. Being human is about experiencing all of it, the perfect and the imperfect. We are in an ebb and flow of moments, some marked by an exquisite beauty that can move us to tears and others marked by a darkness that shakes us to our core. It’s not about eradicating the darkness or imperfection from ourselves; it’s about surrendering to the suppleness of the evolution that mistakes and missteps have to offer. When we can learn to embrace all of ourselves, even the pieces we see as flaws, and look at them for what they truly are, then we will give ourselves the opportunity to choose higher expressions of self. It was quite clear that burying myself in the pursuit of an exalted state of faultlessness simply made me bury pieces of myself that I was ashamed of. I now see that shame, fear, and doubt only cause us to polarize ourselves further from our divine essence, and thus, can hurt others and ourselves in the process. The endless chase of perfectionism only deters us from our unique and organic expression of our greatness.
I am choosing to put down the proverbial whip and collar I’ve been using on myself for the past twenty-seven years. Instead, I am choosing to take a long, deep look at all that I am for the transmutation into my true expression of self, which will be perfectly imperfect.