An Open Letter to the Perfectionist

To the perfectionist who needs to hear this,

Let me start by saying it’s okay to not be perfect. Nobody is. Hannah Montana said it herself. However, I know how hard it is to actually believe that. No matter how many times people say that to me, I refuse to listen. And you’re probably the same way because you think you might be the exception to the rule. As much as I hate to say it, there is no exception to the rule. Nobody can be perfect. 

Perfectionism works its way into so many aspects of our lives. It shows up in the way we work, the way we look, the way we speak, the way we act. You name it, and perfectionism will rear its ugly head into that part of your life. Perfectionism doesn’t look the same for everybody either. My bedroom might not always be the cleanest, but I feel the need to be the best at everything else. Others need their spaces to be perfect and they can be more careless in other aspects of their life. It can feel inescapable sometimes. Even when you try to let go and live your life in a more carefree way, it never seems to work because old habits die hard. It’s a pattern of thoughts that have been ingrained into you. Once you start thinking that way, it’s really hard to stop. But it isn’t impossible. 

The need to be perfect is so toxic, and it is so prevalent in our lives. People all over the place tell us they don’t care if we’re not perfect, yet they’re the first ones who are disappointed in us when they realize we aren’t. So what are we supposed to do about the paradox of perfectionism? 

As a perfectionist myself, I waste so much time and energy worrying about what people think of me. I’ve always wanted to be the kind of girl who couldn’t care less about others’ opinions, but it seems impossible to turn that part of my brain off, no matter how hard I try. The constant pressure I put on myself to be perfect so everybody will like me can start to get so heavy I feel like I can’t breathe under its weight. Every little thing I do, say, or wear is subject to scrutiny by every single person I come across, not just those whose opinions I genuinely value. It’s to the point where I don’t even know how to measure myself anymore because my standards have just become what others expect of me. How can I possibly live up to everybody else’s standards when I don’t even have my own?

If you feel this way too, you have to know that you are definitely not alone in this. Perfectionism can be such an isolating thing because you think you must figure it all out on your own or else you’re a failure. Just as a reminder: you are not a failure if you can’t work everything out yourself. If you aren’t able to do something, it’s totally okay to ask for help when you need it. It’s not a sign of weakness, and it doesn’t mean you’re showing the world that you’re incapable either. There’s no reason to be afraid of imperfection. Not being perfect doesn’t mean you’re mediocre or anything less than wonderful. It means you’re human. And we all are. 

With love, 

Your Fellow Perfectionist