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Self love collage
Self love collage
Samantha Dietel
Mental Health

How to Perfect Being Imperfect

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Maddi tackles the paradox of perfection this week, hinting at both the attraction of ‘being perfect’ – but also the detrimental effects of chasing this unobtainable desire.

Perfectionism can be both encouraging and exhausting. It can be encouraging because levels of motivation and aspiration are raised, and yet exhausting because such efforts may never seem satisfactory, catalysing feelings of disappointment and fear of failure. This is the fine line between healthy and unhealthy behaviour, where the crucial difference is whether your standards ‘are just high or impossibly high’, according to recent psychological studies.

Being ambitious is beneficial to a certain extent, but once you start to become extremely self-critical and disregard any accomplishment unless you achieve perfection, that fine line has well and truly been crossed. The secret is realising that mistakes don’t make you weak, in fact, they’re the key to true success…

Wanting to be perfect – ironically – has its disadvantages. When striving to be flawless and settling for nothing less it’s easy to focus on the inevitable setbacks despite everything you have achieved.

To put it simply, perfectionists tend to have a glass half empty outlook on life, but in reality mistakes are natural and necessary.

The sooner you accept this rather than instantly being hard on yourself, the easier it’ll be to appreciate progress. After all, life is all about learning. It all comes with practice. Just like training a muscle, good habits can soon become a reflex.

Perfectionism encourages self-criticism, the sole opposer of self-compassion, meaning that self-love is an important factor to success. By accepting your imperfections and practising healthy habits (such as positive affirmations) you can still be highly successful without experiencing the ills of perfectionism.

Now, I understand that this all seems very cliche, and I’m not asking you to go off and meditate for hours – but even taking a few seconds each day to practice one healthy habit can make all the difference. Overcoming perfectionism takes time but saying one nice thing about yourself everyday or revelling in your small accomplishments is a step in the right direction. By appreciating who and what you already have, you can be your own biggest supporter.

Perfectionists may also fail to see the importance of rest, especially as a university student when it feels like we always have a hundred things to do. It’s easy to feel like you don’t deserve a break or that it’ll cause you to fall behind, but this mindset is actually self-defeating.

Rest isn’t your greatest enemy, it’s your greatest weapon.

It allows you to grow stronger and tackle the next task with a sharper mind. Although, it’s essential to realise that if you are resting but are shaming yourself for not being productive, that isn’t rest. By thinking of rest as being restorative rather than harmful you can reward yourself for your hard work.

You might find yourself constantly replaying conversations in your head, wishing you’d said something else. When you find yourself doing this you must present yourself with two choices: you either let go now or let go later, there’s no in-between. Living in the past can spark feelings of guilt and regret, just as dwelling on the future can cause anxiety, all of which distort what’s really important – the present. You can’t change what has happened or predict the future, so the energy you waste worrying is futile.

Enjoy what’s happening right now, I promise it’ll be more worthwhile.

Self-love is a tool you’ll develop when overcoming perfectionism. Finding meaning along the way is more valuable than focusing on doing something perfectly, otherwise life won’t seem as fulfilling as you have the potential to make it.  You don’t necessarily have to lower your standards either, it’s more about realising whether applying too much pressure on yourself is helping or hindering you from reaching your goals. Having imperfections isn’t a weakness, they make us human.

And remember, the goal isn’t perfection, it’s about being kinder to yourself.

Sources:

Stillman, Jessica, ‘Are You the Good or the Bad Kind of Perfectionist?’, Inc. (August 2015) <https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/are-you-the-good-or-the-bad-kind-of-perfectionist.html> [Accessed: 24/01/2022].

Madeline Wesley

Nottingham '23

I’m a second year English student at University of Nottingham and blogger for HerCampus, with a passion for music and fashion.
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