When I was in 6th grade, the adviser for the “TAG” program pulled me into her office. After some chit chat about what I would be doing in the summer, she looked me in the eye, and said something I will never forget. “Niki, I think you are a perfectionist. And I’m concerned that this will hurt you later on in life.” After I got over the shock of her comment, I got angry. Who is she to tell me I’m a perfectionist? She didn’t even know me! (She had spent very little time with me up to this point.)
I marched home and told my parents what the counselor had said. They weren’t happy about it either, but I don’t remember anything being done about it.
Flash forward. For my high school graduation, a friend gave me the book “Life’s Little Instruction Book” by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. One of the quotes resonated with me: “Strive for excellence, not perfection.” It became a mission for me.
Through the years, I have continued to fight the urge to be the perfect wife, mom, dietitian, daughter, and friend.
How much less would I have accomplished if I was striving for perfection instead of excellence? Would I have started my business or written a book? Would I have tried to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Would parenting have been too overwhelming if I felt the need to be perfect?
I have learned to give myself a break. Doing my best is enough.
Interestingly, the more pressure I put on myself, the worse my diarrhea flares up. Coincidence? Nope. What about you? Can you fight the urge to be perfect and settle for giving your best effort?