A recovering perfectionist

perfectionistWhen is good going to be good enough for me?

I’ve recently been struggling with perfectionism. I have some unattainable degree of excellence I strive for daily, but never seem to reach. I get so caught up in the finished product, the details, that I miss the lessons God has placed before me. Instead of embracing the agony, pain, resistance, and, heaven forbid, mistakes along my path, I beat myself up with nagging afterthoughts. I hold myself at very high and unrealistic standards.

Driven by perfectionism

My mind, driven by perfectionism, tells me “If you can’t do it perfectly and completely, just don’t start.” I’m learning I have to let go of that mantra if I want to be happy and enjoy my life. For the first time in my life, I realize “excellent” and “perfect” are not attainable every day. Although I’m learning to settle for “good enough” and “that’ll do for now,” the concept is still foreign and uncomfortable.

Last week, a good friend texted me out of the blue and asked if I would bring the topic to the meeting. I looked down at my watch…the meeting was in 45 minutes. My perfectionism was fast at work. I knew there wasn’t time to comb the big book in search of the “perfect” topic. So my first thought was “I just won’t respond. She will never know I didn’t receive the text.” Then I recalled a basic lesson BRC Recovery taught: Always say yes to service work. My response was a simple “sure.” On the fly, I picked something from “A Vision for You.” With heart pounding and mind racing I read the passage aloud.

Instead of sitting back and listening to what others had to say, I began sifting through the nagging afterthoughts. Mid-meeting, I prayed for those voices to be silenced and to engage in the moment. As I listened to other people share on their own experiences, I realized that my not-so-perfect topic was actually quite helpful to others.

We are often our own worst critics.

When fear of failure prevents us from helping others and doing the work we need to, we do ourselves and others an enormous disservice. For me, part of getting over the fear of failure means internalizing that less-than-perfect is hardly failure at all. On the contrary, it shows that I can be comfortable with exactly how things are, not some unattainable version of what my mind tells me they should be.

My experience has shown me that service work from the heart is always good enough.

You tell me…when is “ok” better than “perfect”?

 

Vickie Bing is the Alumni Coordinator for BRC Recovery.  She received her B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Arlington.  Vickie is a former high school teacher and an Air Force veteran.  You can read other posts on her blog at The BRC Recovery Blog.