I’m a recovering undercover over-loving, people-pleasing perfectionist.Song inspiration: Reachin’ 2 Much x Anderson.Paak ft. Lalah Hathaway
Passing notes was a favorite pastime of mine when I was younger. I didn’t have a cellphone until my sophomore year of high school so you can imagine I did a lot of note passing back in my day. I just recently threw away all the notes I had saved from middle/high school after watching this one episode of hoarders that changed my life (but I digress) I was in the 7th grade when I received a note in the hallway from my crush/school boyfriend. I excitedly opened it in my 3rd period class. It was a letter written in the form of a poem entitled “My Sexy Perfectionist.” Now, I know what you’re thinking: What in the hell does a 7th grade boy know about what it is to be sexy?!? I definitely agree. I was nowhere near sexy at that age but a young boy can dream I guess. I will never forget this note for many reasons, but most importantly, it was the first time in my life I had ever been called a perfectionist. I had absolutely no idea what that word meant. But shout out to homeboy; he may not have known what it was to be sexy at that young age, but he was able to identify a character flaw in me that would permeate my life for years to come.
I am the youngest of six siblings and quite frankly I believe this is why I am a very visual learner. I had so many examples of what to do and what not to do in the eyes of my parent’s approval. I definitely didn’t have to touch the stove to know that it was hot (thanks to my sister Amber) I tried my very best to be under the good graces of my parents. I was a pretty solid rule follower, I liked to help my mom with chores around the house and I did really well in school. My dad has only had to yell at me one time in my life and I still feel like it was super unwarranted (but go off Eldridge) I was always the teacher’s helper and tried my best to be an exemplar student in the class. I would like to say I was the perfect kid, but we all know I’d be stretching the truth just a little bit.
I thought I had figured out a major life cheat code. Just follow the rules, learn from other people’s mistakes and do things differently… Duh!! Me and my bright ideas. What I was actually doing was placing such a heavy burden of perfectionism on myself at a very early age. I was committed to living a life of acceptance instead of authenticity. I was so stuck on doing the right thing at all times that when I had a human lapse of judgement, there was really no need for my parents to punish me because I would punish myself with self-loathing and despair (on top of actual punishment) Every time I felt like I disappointed my parents or teachers, I would vow to go above and beyond the next time to prove myself worthy of their love and forgiveness. In reality, it was never that deep, but my little mind couldn’t comprehend that. So not only did I strive to do every single thing with perfection, I added people-pleasing to the mix which is a dangerous concoction.
If you looked up the definition of doing too much, you’d see my picture right there with a goofy ass smile. I kid you not. I went so hard in everything that I mistook perfectionism for authentic ambition.
This mindset impacted every aspect of my life. In my educational journey, I prided myself on being academically disciplined (besides that one relapse when I almost failed the 3rd grade) When I didn’t catch on to a concept as quick as I’d like to, I’d feel like there was something wrong with me or the way that I learned. I didn’t want to be seen as incompetent in the eyes of my peers. In my personal life, I pushed myself to live up to the expectations of my family and friends. I held myself to unrealistic standards that the people around me could not and would not adhere to because they weren’t necessary. When I would do something to disappoint family or friends, I’d think of any way possible to get back in their good graces; I’d bend over backwards to prove my love and loyalty. So it constantly felt like I was giving more than I was receiving.
Unfortunately, In my love life I actually grew up to be that “Sexy Perfectionist” my 7th grade crush was talking about. I looked real good on the outside but was full of shit on the inside. You couldn’t tell me anything in opposition to what my intention was. I always went above and beyond to make sure that I was the perfect girlfriend. I learned the hard way that you don’t get a Nobel Peace Prize for simply not cheating (who knew?) I had a lot of messed up character traits that would be enough to make any guy that pursued me run in the opposite direction. When confronted with constructive criticism by my significant other, I would become stoic and hard hearted. It was hard for me to hear anything negative because I knew the major effort that I put into each endeavor so if it was misread, then clearly it wasn’t my problem, it was theirs. So eventually, my significant others would just stop telling me when I made them feel some type of way while I made sure to point out every single flaw of theirs. As you can imagine, that did not go over so well in the relationship retention department. In my career, it was hard when I worked really hard on something and felt like it wasn’t acknowledged or appreciated the way that I felt it should be. In my faith, I felt like I had to be perfect to come to God and ask for help. So a lot of the time, I tried doing things on my own because I didn’t think I was worthy of receiving grace. Perfectionism/People-pleasing was kicking my ass.
Again, I am thankful for therapy and for God placing loved ones in my life who were able to help me push past many of these isms. So as I sit here in my living room, writing to those who will read but also to myself, I am reminded that it is okay to be human. It is okay to miss the mark. We can give ourselves grace and room to grow. I used to seek approval of others, desiring to be the perfect 10-whatever that is. Instead, I try to follow a list of Imperfect 10’s (things I work on while giving myself tons of grace to miss the mark) to help me become someone I can be proud of.
London’s List of Imperfect 10’s
- Accountability: I try my best each day to take responsibility for my words and actions. I am willing to allow others to hold me accountable without using self-loathing as a defense mechanism when I go against my word or my actions in ways that can be harmful to my boundaries and others around me
- Boundaries: I practice creating healthy boundaries within myself and those around me. I practice saying no. I am willing to have conversations about what I will and will not allow and understand that although I cannot control who will or will not adhere to my boundaries, I will stand firm in my commitment to protecting my heart, time, space and energy
- Forgiveness: I remind myself daily that just as much as I make mistakes and mess up, others do as well because we are humans-flawed and imperfect. We are all facing our own battles and situations. I practice daily the ability to forgive and show grace to those who have hurt me because I want to be forgiven too
- Humility: I wake up each day with the understanding that I do not know it all. I am capable of learning new things and gaining new perspectives until my time on earth is done. There will never be a time where I am a proclaimed “expert,” of life and I am okay with that
- Courage: I want to live life without fear as much as possible by examining why something scares and and formulating ways to overcome fear with help from God, family and friends
- Integrity: I strive to do the right thing even when there’s no audience or reward to acknowledge my efforts. I want my life to leave behind traces of authenticity, respect and honest ambition
- Vision: I never want to stop dreaming. I pray for my purpose to shine through me daily and that new ideas to spring up in me. I don’t want to be discouraged or take rejection so hard when doors/opportunities don’t happen. Instead I hope to be rerouted and wait in excitement for the next window of opportunity to come
- Love: I truly believe that love conquers all and if I approach people and situations in my life with love at the forefront, I am off to a good start
- Gratitude: Each day I start off with words of thankfulness to God for my life, for new opportunities and for another chance to impact those around me. I even created a gratitude jar where I write down things I am thankful for and open them after 6 months to a year to remind myself that no matter what, there are things I can be grateful for
- Patience: I used to want to rush certain processes and now I try my best to go with the flow, trusting that what’s for me is for me and nothing and no one can stop me from receiving what’s truly mine. I strive to get through things, allowing myself to feel and acknowledge each emotion instead of getting over things through avoidance and stoic expressions
I truly believe that many, if not all of the good/bad experiences that we go through are not only for the benefit of ourselves but for others as well. That’s why I do my best to be as open and honest in this blog. As painful and embarrassing as it was to go through these things, I get so much joy in the feeling of release and reflection on how far I’ve come. I hope my words are received with as much love and encouragement as I write them in.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! What’s a character flaw you’ve overcome or are still working on overcoming? Feel free to comment below!
Yours in Authenticity,