Making Peace With Imperfection
May 15, 2023 · by Regina Felty
I just learned that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I’ve never needed a time that focused on my mental health more than this month. My daughter’s wedding was May 6th and I feel like I haven’t slept in the past six months planning it. The wedding turned out beautifully (my daughter was calmer than I was!), but being stressed as the Mother of the Bride just comes with the job description.
However, I’m sure I brought much of the stress on myself because I’m a borderline perfectionist. I say borderline because I don’t want anyone reading this to follow me around to see me overreact when I drop the ball, and I will. Only my family knows how I freaked out when I found out the night before the wedding that I forgot to buy 400 cups for the reception guests. (“Thank you, Andy, for saving the day.")
When I started writing this post, I made a short list of things I obsess over. Again, if you’re reading this, feel free to give me a hug when you notice this happening and remind me, “Let it go, girl.”
Here’s what this past week looked like for me:
- The spice canisters were backward in the pantry. I couldn’t see the labels. Turned them all forward again and wiped all fingerprints off them while I was at it.
- Made the bed. The comforter ended up longer on one side. Took the time to fix it and was almost late to work.
- Made homemade sourdough bread. Frowned when I noticed the decorative score lines I’d made on top of the loaves had baked off-center.
- The succulents leftover from the wedding sprouted tall yellow and orange blossoms. (How dare they!) They’d be too heavy for their small clay pots, so I cut them off.
After all that, it’s no mystery why I felt no peace by the weekend.
I was crabby, agitated, and feeling rushed because I couldn’t leave something undone or messy before moving on to another project or before leaving the house.
Believe it or not, having peace, harmony, and an organized, relaxing home are my goals--honest!
So, if I wasn’t FIXated on FIXing everything, how much more time would I have on my hands? Do I really want to fix the comforter on our bed every day for the next 20 years (between a well-meaning hubby who tries to help and a rat terrier who pounces on it daily, it’s gonna be that way anyway)? How exhausting!
Perfectionists rarely experience inner peace. In fact, Richard Carlson (author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . ) says, “The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility conflict with each other.”
The contentment and gratefulness I long to experience often disintegrate into criticism and discontent. Our inner conflict and need for everything to line up perfectly will eventually overflow its banks and affect our relationship with others. It’s not long before we're pointing out the mote in our brother’s eye because it takes the pressure off dealing with the ever-present beam in our own. (Can I get an Amen!?)
So, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I started with baby steps toward freeing myself from perfectionist tendencies. I’m kinda proud of myself, too. For example, I was writing a thank you note to someone today and my hand slid over the ink (I’m left-handed) and smeared it. An ugly black smudge that was not supposed to be there glared up at me. I breathed. My hand trembled. But, instead of reaching for a new card and starting over, I drew a flower over the black smear. I kinda liked it.
So, if, like me, you struggle with accepting deficiencies–either your own or others’–then it’s time to make peace with imperfection. Start with just one small acceptance until you can handle the more significant ones with grace.
Ready? Now, go to your pantry. Turn all the can and spice labels backward. Then, walk away. Just walk away.
And don’t look back.
You got this!
Photo Credit: Polina Tankilevitch: https://www.pexels.com/photo/p...