We all have this idea of what perfect means. It’s someone who gets up every morning at 6 am, has a healthy breakfast, goes to work, kicks ass there, comes home where everything is Instagramable and clean and cozy, and then parties a little bit before going to sleep with their loved one.
The one that always has perfect hair and makeup. The one that always has everything under control.
That perfect someone, well, doesn’t exist.
For so long, I tried to meet the standards I set for myself—standards I needed to meet to finally fit into the mold of my own perfection. And I failed. I was constantly on edge, constantly nervous and depressed if even the slightest thing would go wrong.
Unanswered emails haunted me in my dreams; my need to be the perfect coworker, perfect daughter, sister and employee cost me my health. In pursuit of perfection, I missed out on so many beautiful things around me.
And even then, I was so sure that it was my fault—I should’ve tried harder, I could’ve done it better. But the thing is, I couldn’t.
I’m only human and sure as hell I don’t fit into that mold of perfection I imagined.
But finally, after so long, I can say that I’m imperfectly perfect. I can say that I’m happy and at peace even when my apartment is a mess, my hair looks like a bird’s nest and I wear Wonder woman panties under my little black dress (because I decided to sleep instead of doing my laundry, it happens, okay?).
I’m at peace with myself because I learned how to embrace my imperfect self and stopped feeling inadequate. And maybe some of the things I learned can help you, too.
1. Perfection is not real
We’re not meant to be perfect. Humans make mistakes by design. Otherwise, we would be called robots. My idea of perfect is not the same as yours and your idea of perfect is not the same as your friend’s.
So why would you give yourself a hard time over something that’s an illusion? Why would you lose sleep over things you can’t control?
Live your life to the fullest, because once you get old, you won’t remember how good at being perfect you were. You will remember all the crazy and good things you did for yourself.
2. Remember that you are enough
If we’re going after someone else’s approval instead of our own, we won’t ever feel satisfied. I compared myself to others so much that I started hating how I’m not talented for math enough, I suck at basketball, I suck at putting on makeup—I can’t even draw out the winged eyeliner right.
I was never good enough and it was consuming me on a daily basis because I worked my ass off, but I still wasn’t satisfied. So, I changed my perspective.
I wrote on every single mirror and wall at my place things I love about myself and things I’m good at. I’m good at writing. I’m good at cooking. I love my blue eyes. I love my ginger hair.
I had to remind myself every day that I’m enough and that I have things to be grateful for. I love both my arms, both my legs. I love my ability to walk, talk and see. I love that I’m enough because now I know I am.
3. Let go of the things you can’t control
We can’t control what other people think about us and how they feel about us. I tried to do the things I believed were the right ones. I tried to act perfectly because I believed it was really a perfect way.
And along the way, I hurt some people without any intention of doing it. But the thing is, we don’t get to decide if we hurt someone or not.
We don’t get to decide whether they will like us or not. We have no control over other people, we have no control of the future and that’s what frightened the hell out of me.
I would stay up all night worrying about things I said, if someone will like me, what will happen tomorrow, how can I stop someone from leaving.
But that’s life—people come and go, shit happens and the only thing we have power over is how we react to it.
4. Change your self-talk
Would you spend time with your friends if they said the things you keep telling yourself? Would you still love them if they kept talking about your flaws, how you could do better, how you could try harder?
It’s hard loving someone who sees only the bad in us; it’s hard loving someone who has nothing but complaints for us. So how could you love yourself if you keep doing that?
Instead of thinking how your hair looks like a mess, think about how you’re starting a new fashion trend.
Instead of thinking how you could lose some more weight, think about how curvy you are and how amazing it feels to enjoy your life.
Instead of thinking how ugly, messed up, not worthy you are, look yourself in the eyes and repeat, “I am enough” until you finally believe it.
And give yourself a smile in the mirror—it’s proven to instantly improve our mood.
5. Remember that you are a work in progress
No one can do anything perfectly on their first try. It’s the failures that teach us lessons. It’s the opportunity to try again, to show strength, to keep going that teache us lessons.
They teach us how amazing we are, how strong, how persistent we are. My professor used to say that the beauty is in the journey, not the goal.
I don’t know about you guys, but I sure love when I reach my goals, but also, I learned to enjoy the journey as well. I learned that I’m a work in progress.
I’m still learning how to be an adult. I’m still learning to love myself. I’m still learning that it’s okay to fail. Even when it stings, even when you’re beaten down, it’s still okay.
I will be okay, I got this.
6. Cut the people pleasing
It’s not someone else’s happiness that matters—it’s yours. It’s not about pleasing others, it’s about pleasing yourself. No matter how hard you try, they will always ask of you to try harder.
No matter how much you give, it will never be enough. Instead of pursuing THEIR happiness and needs, start pursuing yours.
Say ‘no’ from time to time—respect yourself so they can respect you, too. Respect your time, so they will respect it too.
The first time I said ‘no’ to my coworker about taking his part of job I felt so bad. I felt like the worst person ever. But he didn’t even flinch. He just moved on to someone else.
I remember rolling all over bed all night thinking that maybe I could’ve done his part of job, too. I mean, I’m not sleeping anyway.
But he couldn’t even remember it the next day when I apologized. He never cared about who will do the job—he only cared that he’s not the one doing it.
That’s when I realized that I was losing sleep for someone who couldn’t even remember talking to me. And how many times had I done the same thing, without even realizing that? How many times have you done the same thing?
You must be thinking, “Why the fuck should I dream? What’s that got to do with embracing myself?” Remember those times when we were children and we had the craziest dreams?
We wanted to be fire workers, astronauts, ballerinas, and well, I wanted to be Picasso (I was a crazy kid). We had those dreams and we practiced for them.
We used to dance all day to be ready once we became ballerinas. We used to put out imagined fires to be ready once our destiny as fire workers came.
And I used to paint all around the house because I was going to be the next Picasso. And somehow, after all the pursuing good grades, meeting everyone’s standards of being great children and adults, caring, social, rested and active students, we lost our dreams.
We lost our ability of finding perfection in the craziest of things because we were taught differently. We were taught that the perfection is in having good grades, a college degree, a steady job and family by the time we’re 30.
And trust me on this one—it’s not. It’s in loving yourself, dreaming big and finding ourselves every single day because we have a long way ahead of us. We might as well make it a fun one.