“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
– Brené Brown
We all strive to be perfect. We have an ideal version of our lives that we are determined to meet. Every few weeks, I tend to have this extreme urge to reshape my life and become the most productive person on earth. I plan out a morning routine, including tasks such as waking up early, stretching, meditating, and journaling - all before eating a balanced breakfast and attending my online classes. Then after school, I aim to diligently work on my homework without distraction, leaving myself extra time to draw, relax, and work on personal projects at night. And you know what? I can usually do it - for a certain amount of time. However, after a few weeks, I burn out and lose all of my motivation. I find myself procrastinating, scrolling through social media all day, finishing my homework at 1 a.m., and repeating the cycle the next day.
Being pulled between two extremes like this is undoubtedly unhealthy. But why do so many of us do it?
As we strive to be "perfect", we get caught up in self-imposed structures and rules. Thus, when something falls out of place, we feel guilty for not doing things right and for feeling tired. Our identity gets wrapped into our goals, and eventually, we begin to procrastinate due to the fear of failing ourselves. "If I can't do it right, I won't do it at all". Sound familiar?
A note of advice from one of my favorite Youtubers, Rowena Tsai, that I think a lot of us perfectionists could benefit from is, "Instead of demanding perfection we must embrace progress".
How do we do that though?
Well, in Rowena Tsai's video " to anyone feeling like they're not enough | a video for procrastinators and perfectionists", Tsai reminds us that there is a difference between seeking perfection and striving for excellence. She shares some insight on reflecting on which one you are currently doing.
1. Do you want to "do the thing "right" ", or "do the right thing"?
2. Are you focused on what others will think, or on how you can personally improve?
3. Are you looking for external validation or self-betterment?
4. Are you focused on how things appear or why you're doing them?
Obviously, it is important to set goals for ourselves. However, if you notice that you're not enjoying the process of reaching those goals, and are obsessing over the outcome, then it's time you reflect on breaking that perfectionist cycle. Be compassionate with yourself, set realistic expectations, and enjoy the ride. Remind yourself that it is okay to not be working 24/7. Remind yourself that it is okay to take breaks. Remind yourself that your work doesn't have to be perfect as long as it is authentic. Be perfectly imperfect.
Note: I highly encourage all of you to watch Rowena Tsai's video on procrastination and perfectionism (linked below).