I grew up thinking that in order to be successful, I needed to do everything perfectly and look perfect while I'm doing it. In my very difficult high school days where I was struggling more than ever to feel enough, perfectionism was always hanging around. And no matter what I did and how perfectly I tried to do it, it was never enough, because when perfectionism is in the car, shame is always sitting right beside it.
According to Dr. Brene Brown, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – the very things that we all need.
Shame needs three key ingredients to grow- silence, secrecy and judgement. And let me tell you, the more I used perfectionism to hide and keep from feeling, the shame around my human struggles kept growing. It grew an grew, until I couldn't keep it all in control anymore. My breakdown in high school was both the darkest and most life-changing event in my life.
I had to re-learn how to live in a way that felt more real. I had to start speaking out, reaching out and owning my story. (naturally cutting shame right off at its knees). I had to start learning how to take down the armor (perfectionism) and embrace vulnerability. And let me tell you, that process wasn't easy. It took a few years to get back on my emotional feet and become the person I am now.
I learned some of the most important lessons during that time of struggle and found people who inspired me to be a truer and more powerful version of myself.
Most importantly, I learned to start living from the inside out, not the outside in. That is where I found myself.
Perfectionism is all about "what will they think?" It keeps us exhausted and hustling for people's approval. It tricks us into thinking that by being perfect, we can avoid feeling vulnerability, failure, hurt and disappointment, the very emotions that make us human. But the truth is that embracing and owning the very emotions that make us human is also how we access connection, compassion, belonging, love, gratitude and joy.
When I started diving into the work, books and writing of TED Speaker Dr. Brene Brown, I started developing a really solid vocabulary around the things I was learning through my experiences and personal growth. And by having a greater understanding, things started making more and more sense. My life changed.
Taking down the perfectionism armor will never feel comfortable, but it will let the light in, I can promise you that. Whenever we pretend that everything is okay, that we don't care or try to live up to an impossible standard, we lose the magic of what makes us human. Unlearning perfectionism is vulnerable- it's risky and uncertain, and it may start with very small acts of courage, but its where some of the most powerful, spontaneous and inspiring moments will surface.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
- Leonard Cohen