Are You a Perfectionist? You might want to read: The Illusion of Perfection

 

Today’s article is brought to you by one of our Uncommon Chicks, Dianna Lee. Enjoy!

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The Illusion of Perfection

My first wedding was held Saturday, June 15th, 2002; when leafing through photos from that day, everything looked perfect, though I swear my smile seems a little strained. I’m sure my tired eyes are only obvious to me, I can’t help but to remember the anxiety and stress of the days leading up to the big event as I had felt like the weight of hundreds of people’s expectations (and my own) were being carried on my frail shoulders.

So when I got married to my second husband on April 16th, 2011, I made sure to circumvent the mistakes of my misguided youth. The results? I was able to laugh, dance and get swept up in the beauty of the moment instead of sweating all those tiny details, a lesson that I continue to apply to many of the aspects of my life today.

When I was in my early-twenties, I graduated from college with a stellar GPA, the title of President from the French club, a healthy amount of volunteer work under my belt and a job at my dream company awaiting me.

Perfectionism had been the fuel that fired my engine.

So when my college sweetheart proposed two months after graduation, I jumped headfirst into the planning process and, like everything else, was willing to accept nothing less than perfection. When I recall these times, I feel compelled to time travel back to give my younger self a hug and tell her to “lighten up.”

Instead of rolling with the punches, I tried to micromanage everything and could not accept when things did not go as I envisioned. The more wedding magazines I flipped through, the more I felt the pressure to compete with the glossy, airbrushed photographs that sprawled in front of me, which made me frenzied and frazzled.

On the day of my wedding, I was focusing on what had “gone wrong” in my perfectionist’s eye instead of truly feeling the romance. Conversely, when I got married in my thirties, I kept my focus on the love my fiancé and I shared and demonstrated flexibility when coordinating the details.

In order to be happy, I had to let go of the illusion of perfection.

And isn’t this true for all of us, whether it is our wedding day or not? How often do we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough because we don’t resemble the retouched models in advertisements? Or that our smartphone is suddenly insufficient because a newer addition has just hit the shelves?

By using others as a measuring stick, we abandon the pursuit of our own bliss to chase the impossible dream. tweet-this

And yes, ladies and gentleman, you can trust this former believer when I declare that perfection is impossible

The Lessons Dianna Learned

Often going hand-in-hand with perfectionism is the inability to accept our own limitations, which causes frustration and, occasionally, disaster. During college and my early career, I would often sacrifice sleep to accomplish big projects and, as a result, I would become physically ill. My unwillingness to recognize that there are only so many hours in the day made life much harder, my nuptials being no exception.

A fan of the “do-it-yourself” wedding concept, I watched a quick online video about how to put together a bridal bouquet and thought to myself “that looks easy! I can knock out a few of those bad boys in three hours tops!

The day before my wedding though, I spent hours and hours snipping, tying and growing increasingly frustrated as my creations looked nothing like what I had envisioned. While I had saved money by buying the flowers wholesale and not from a florist, I did so at the cost of my sanity and my friendships as I held my two best friends hostage from morning until night.

Learning from my first trip down the aisle, for my second wedding I personally made items that were not overly ambitious or time-sensitive. While the floral centerpieces were required to be made soon before the wedding in order to stay fresh, elements like wedding favors as well as printed items like the invitations and menus were made months in advance, allowing me to take my time. Additionally, as my first attempt at arts and crafts verified, I am not a professional, so I chose to personally make the components that the perfectionist side of me wouldn’t get distraught over. The takeaway I had from the two experiences is that, by being humbly honest about my capabilities, I can save myself grief.

In my early-twenties, I am ashamed to say that I had the mentality that my wedding would be the social affair of the year for everyone I knew. I felt that my friends should feel honored to stand next to me in bridesmaid dresses and should be grateful to have been selected for such a prestigious privilege. As my girlfriends and I like to laugh about now, I was a bit of a tyrannical witch for the few months leading up to the actual ceremony.  I expected them to drop everything in their lives to assist me with the planning process, and was moody when rebuffed; I took it personally when a few of them couldn’t attend the shower and the bachelorette party; and when my older sister asked me if she could wear a bridesmaid dress that was altered to accommodate her larger frame, I gave her quite the stink eye.

After the wedding, the dust died down and I had to face the music and the uphill battle of apologizing to my favorite ladies. Having been a bridesmaid twice since my wedding, I entered my second wedding with the attitude that it was I who was privileged enough to have my beautiful, caring friends stand by my side on my big day. I went out of my way to be more accommodating to their schedules, budgets and body types, as well as to show my gratitude. As a result, my wedding not only brought my husband and I closer together, but was a bonding experience for my bridesmaids and myself as well. I learned that thinking only of myself will get me nowhere; thinking of others will bring true happiness.

Big days, like our weddings, have a way of bringing our true character to light. They also present us with opportunities for self-discovery and lessons we can learn from. I don’t regret a single blunder I made during my first time down the aisle, as I needed to experience things the wrong way so I could ascertain how to do them the right way. Today, I have learned to embrace my mistakes as they help me to grow to be the best woman that I can be

Over to you…

How has trying to be perfect helped or hurt you? What lessons have you learned from being a perfectionist? 

Done is better than perfect. Do you agree?

Wassuper, it’s yo girl, Kesha and I believe we should Be the Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios because life is more interesting when you dare to be different and challenge what’s “normal!” I am wildly passionate about helping highly driven women pursue fantabulous relationships, juicytastic careers/bizzes, and authentically inspired lives. Let’s rethink, redo, and reinvent YOU so you can live life YOUR way!
The Illusion of Perfection…From A Second-Time Bride
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  • I am definitely guilty of trying to make sure everything is perfect. Doing videos for my website, I constantly find myself trying to get the perfect “take” in one shot. Doing a video that is going to end up being less than 10 minutes, should not take a long period of time to just record. Getting better at just relaxing and letting everything flow together.

    I have always told my kids that trying to be perfect at whatever you try can lead you to do some great things. Just keep in mind everything you are stressing over always seems to work out in the end.

    • Ahhh, good lesson for the kids Kevin! And I feel you about the videos. Slowly but surely I’m getting there as well – not sweating about how “perfect” videos have to be!

  • Well this has never been an issue of mine Dianna. Oh sure, I like things to go well and be how I want them to be but I don’t obsess on them.

    I remember my first wedding too. Sure, I looked through things and found what I wanted. I went over them with the florist and caterer and then left things to them. I showed up at the church on my wedding day and nothing was how I ordered it. It ended up being my day from hell so that was my first sign I should not be walking down that isle. I guess you can probably figure out that marriage didn’t last.

    By no means am I perfect, not at all but I just don’t sweat things. They’re just things!

    Thanks Kesha for having Dianna with us today. Enjoyed this post with smiles on girl.

    ~Adrienne

    • And that’s the key Adrienne, not allowing things to make us sweat. In the big scheme of things, they really don’t often matter. Most of the time we look back and laugh (or cry depending on the situation!) and realize this to be true. 🙂

  • I would like to be perfect. I would like to be like Job in the Bible who God described as being “perfect and upright.” However, in the meantime, I am going to enjoy each step I take toward that destination and not beat myself up for traveling instead of arriving.

    • Yeah girl, enjoy the travel and you’ll likely enjoy the arrival. 🙂

  • I’ve been bitten by the perfection bug way too many times and it often leaves to the procrastination bug – because I feel like if I can’t do it perfectly – why do it?
    I’m a work in progress!

    • You aren’t the only one chica! I used to def be that way which caused me to NOT do a bunch of things. Though I’m a bit better now, I can tell you that it’s a constant balance (read struggle). LOL

  • I hope I am not a witch when I get married. I know I would like to have a more laid back type celebration because I have seen people completely lose it and that for me is not a good look. I am a bit of a perfectionist but that is also a pain in the arse so you’re right in saying that done is better than perfection!

    • Ha! I def can’t see you being one of those witchy bridezillas Arelis so I don’t think you have anything to worry about. 🙂

  • I love that you say, in order to be happy we must let go of the illusion of perfection. No one’s perfect (except Jesus:) Those are some big shoes to fill. I try at times, but it I stumble along the way, I know that I am doing my best. I try to be the best me I can be–which takes away a lot of the anxiety/stress connected to striving for perfection…and besides, the definition of perfection varies, depending on who you ask!

    • And that’s what it’s all about Heather – doing your best! Keep doing that and you’ll be “perfectly” fine. 😉

  • I think perfection is a very vague term. We all can try and improve things from their present state, but trying to be perfect is a waste of time and effort according to me. This so because you can never be perfect, so why strive to do something you can never accomplish.

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