The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. (Anna Quindlen)
It is a gloriously sunny morning as I write this. I am laughing gently at myself as I consider all my previous efforts to strive for perfection–an artificially high standard and abstract ideal that is out if step with the ‘reality’ of who we can ever be or the dynamic situations we find ourselves in.
I recognize the trait of perfectionism as an aspect of who I am that has helped me to focus and persist during some of the most challenging times. I also confess that this sometimes torturous trait can tangle itself up with a sense of responsibility, loyalty, and love that re-emerges when it is not tempered by grounded recognition that I can really only be who I already am–a ‘perfectly imperfect human bean.’
While I do not recommend perfectionism as a way of being or seeing in the world, I do recognize its potential for individual development and collective progress. Given the research on the importance of high expectations and equally high warmth and nurturing in the socialization and education of youth, as well as the longstanding historical and cultural triumphs that have resulted from striving for the seemingly impossible, I know the importance of playfully and lovingly challenging oneself and each other to be, do, and have more than we may be born into. It is important to learn, grow, and reach our full potential.
While pleasure can come from a multitude of sources and even fear-based perfectionism can help us accomplish amazing things, pride and joy come from a deeper and more integrated place–‘the work of becoming yourself.’
Although such statements may be superficially judged as selfish or narcissistic, I believe that the work of becoming oneself is fueled by a sense of passion and purpose that keeps looking inward and moving merrily forward. It benefits the one and it greatly benefits all. As one joyful ‘work in progress’ to another, I wish you love, love, love on your journey,