Redefining Perfection

 “Do the best that you can, with the information you have, at the time.” These are the words of my father, often told to me when I feel anxious or overwhelmed about something. These words, albeit simple, guide me through most of my decision-making processes. I, like many others, struggle with perfectionism. Sometimes this will manifest as feelings of doubt, Impostor Syndrome, or questions about my ability. Unrealistic expectations of ourselves or others can plague our sanity, and in my case often result in inaction due to fear (i.e. taking over a year to start this blog).

A few months ago, I discussed how to overcome these obstacles in therapy, and I realized I needed to redefine what “contentment” and “complacency” meant to me. Growing up these words often felt synonymous. Contentment did not exist in my previous life, for how could my spirituality, work ethic, and moral standing be “good enough” or “satisfactory?” Complacency looked like feelings of safety or comfort. Anything other than the constant pursuit and scrutiny of progress was resting on my laurels. In my time as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I developed an unhealthy relationship with relaxation. Comfort was something to be earned, and too much comfort was framed as a sign that something must be wrong. Time spent relaxing must have been paid for in the study of scripture or an equivalent sacrifice of time and energy spent towards God.

In many ways, these feelings were useful and helped propel my career. If I associated comfort and “peace” with impending doom, then I just had to force myself never to be comfortable. At work, this meant late nights, long days, and going above and beyond to ensure I avoided calamity. But, in other ways, this left me feeling anxious and exhausted. I was constantly on guard waiting for the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, and 1 Peter 5:8 to prove true. This also began to affect my relationships, the ideas of unconditional love, that describing a love in which you had to do nothing to earn it, was foreign to me. I believed, to be loved, I had to earn it through trial and tribulation. What do you mean you “accept me as I am,” and that “I am enough?” For so long I did not understand this.

It was and is a long road to reach a place of peace with these concepts. A hard road, but one well worth the effort. Over time, I learned that the “thief in the night” and the “roaring lion seeking to devour” me are not real. I can relax, I can be present. My worth is not tied to my productivity. The right people will love me for simply being. I now wake up more grateful and ready to make meaningful contributions to those in my world, not out of a sense of obligation, but simply because of the joy it brings. Complacency is not the hour spent relaxing on my couch and perfection isn’t attainable. These truths once self-evident have opened a world of possibility, transforming the way I see success and even failure.

I try every day to embody the words spoken at the start. I commit to doing the best I can. I work with the information I have available to me, and I try not to worry about the “if only I had known’s” that hindsight offers up because well, at the time, I didn’t know. Remembering those three points has helped me become content with the outcomes of my decisions, good or bad. Redefining what relaxation, balance, and self-care means to me has helped me develop more genuine connections with others and myself. And I hope that you too can shed the beliefs that no longer serve you and redefine what health, success, and peace look like to you.

**Editor’s Note: Howdy y’all, I wanted to check-in. It’s been just over six months since I began writing on the blog. Oh, how the world has changed. Since my first post, I have had to think on my feet in some ways, as certain issues took precedent over any of the planned pieces I had for that month. Although my interest in current events and speaking about them has not gone away, I do want to make time to share the stories I had originally planned.

I committed myself that this blog would be a place where authenticity lived, where through storytelling we could all pause for a moment to think, learn, and be taught. In an exercise of vulnerability, I wanted to document my growth and progress. As we head towards the holiday season and into the end of the year, I want to refocus on that mission. With a new perspective, I hope that what you read here is of value and use to you.**