It's no secret that there is an unrealistic standard being set for us continually in the online world.
We've just come out of the holiday season, which in many ways demands a level of perfection from us. A beautiful clean home, overly kind and well mannered children, beautifully wrapped presents, a well decorated tree, an outstanding meal, a family that gets along and so on.
But what the heck do you do when you’re chronically ill!? When perfection is no longer in you vocabulary?
Perfection replaced with surviving, keeping it together, showing up, taking a shower, dressing, concentrating, avoiding thinking about your two day long migraine, worried you can’t eat any of the meals being offered and trying your best to appear well when in all honesty you are nowhere close to feeling that way.
Related: What is a Chronic Illness? | Healthline
Ironically, I’m a perfectionist. Always have been... well, until I became ill, and even then I still strived for perfection. Because unfortunately up until then I associated perfection with normalcy. Normal people had functioning families, were happy people and they were perfect. I would have never said:
"yes today I am striving to be perfect", but I would have said "I am striving to be normal".
I wanted to have the energy again to clean the house, to make it look pretty and festive and all things merry. An energy I have to say many of us, ill or not, don’t have the energy for in the first place.
Once I finally succumbed to the inevitable logic that striving for perfection had never served me in my pre-illness days and wouldn’t serve me now I truly began to heal.
By acknowledging my limits I no longer pushed myself to the point of burnout/flareup and instead took myself as far as I could go without ever going over my edge, and that is what allowed me to build momentum and strength. Mental strength, physical strength, emotional strength. Which took me forward and supported my growth every step of the way towards wellness and healing.
Related: Inside one of my fibromyalgia flare ups | The Mighty
Perfectionism kept me stuck, it's like racing for a finish line that continues to be moved further and further away. Running faster will not get you there, neither will moving slowly, if your endpoint is perfection you will never reach it.
To decide to pull yourself out of the running (that is this race towards perfection) and instead towards a place where you are only working towards your own personal best (a tad of sports references for you all) ...is radical. Not only that - it is transformational. And, it will allow you to heal and grow in ways you never thought possible and at a speed you never imagined.
If you are hearing this and thinking YES this is me, this is what I’ve made the error in doing - it is never too late to adopt this change.
To welcome this shift away from perfection and towards acceptance.
Most of us were taught to push through the pain, to keep striving towards our goals at all costs, never letting an obstacle get us down. And when we find ourselves in the thick of illness, or chronic pain many of us start off by applying this same mindset to the management of our conditions. Because what we want more than anything is to be normal, to go back to the way things were.
To be able to function again.
Although I would never wish upon anyone a chronic illness, an invisible condition or disability, I will say that it gives as an opportunity to re-write our story, to follow a new set of rules, enter onto a new path where our finish line is more than attainable but also starts with us. It can sideline us and derail us, but sometimes it knocks us just far enough out of the rat race to give us a perspective we didn't have before - and that can be a gift.
We can create a set of goals and intentions set by us for us.
Going forward I invite you to internalize your inner Lizzo to say bye b****h to perfectionism. We never loved you anyways. 👋
How to you overcome perfectionism? Comment bellow!