Ah, the battle of perfectionism: setting unrealistic goals and standards for ourselves and feeling like a failure when we don’t achieve them. My whole life I was brought up to try my best, work hard, learn from my mistakes, and move forward. But it turns out that my hardest critic of all time is ME, and I don’t let ME getaway with that.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with setting high standards for yourself and working hard. We all should have a sense of self worth and achievement and feel that greatness that comes with earning something. But feeling like a failure because of goals we set for ourselves that just aren’t realistic is a dangerous road to travel. You must remember that as a human being, you are not flawless.
Now my battle with perfectionism lies in a very specific field: my creative world. Once upon a time I dreamed of becoming a photographer. But no matter how hard I worked or how beautiful my images may have seemed to other people, they were never good enough for me. I invested in nice equipment, got the best editing tools, practiced in my free time, but it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t handle the pressure.
My pursuit of perfection transferred as I developed my new creative outlet: blogging. In the blogging world, creating a pretty set of images sells. Trying to capture beautiful images of food to write recipe posts became daunting as I realized that my meals never turned out how Pinterest told me they would. I moved into a role where I would be in front of the lens, modeling my latest fashion finds. But I found myself imperfect to a fault there too. Especially if the photography wasn’t the absolute best. There was always something I could critique- how I stood, which direction I looked, how I smiled. And even now I struggle to pick what exactly I will share with you.
Ever since I received my first camera for my 13th birthday, I have had an obsession with capturing moments and documenting life. I also developed a dangerous obsession with beauty and making the world around me look a certain way. Have you ever taken a picture of something to realize that it looks way better in the angle you captured it than it does in real life? Or maybe a few editing tools helped you create the picture perfect moment?
Okay c’mon of course you know what I’m talking about. In a world of social media where we document our ‘highlight reels’, it’s hard not to get sucked into painting a perfect picture. And with all the tools at our disposal, this can often be done easily. But we must remember things are not always as they seem and though these little snaps of life might look glamorous, there is always a real person behind them with their own set of struggles.
I am still learning each and every day that if I try my best and work hard, it can be enough. I am enough. I just need to have strategies to manage my high standards and prepare myself to living with mistakes.
Here are some tips I have for fighting creative perfectionism (and that also work for de-stressing and unwinding too):
REALIZE PERFECTION ISN’T REAL. BUT YOU ARE.
You might know someone who seems to have it all together, but just remember that no one knows everything and that often togetherness is a facade. Maybe this one person really does have it together though. Some people just do. Just remember that they aren’t perfect and they shouldn’t be on a pedestal. If they’re doing something you really like though and it impresses you, maybe take a few pointers and learn from them.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
I used to post on my blog 5x a week and it became way too much. I wasn’t writing thoroughly, I was making mistakes, and a lot of the posts were fluffed with bits of nonsense. Today I focus on getting out two posts a week that I make sure are ones I’m proud of. I don’t put pressure on myself to do too much. I want to focus on quality over quantity and it has made this process so much more fun and relaxed. Make sure you set goals for yourself that you can achieve. Doesn’t it feel good to check something off your list easily? I’m one of those people who makes to-do lists with a few line items that are super easy to accomplish. It makes me feel good when I can draw that line through it and say check!
I’ll start a blog post knowing I won’t post it for a few days so that I have time to write thoroughly and fix any mistakes I may make. The same thing goes for my images– taking photographs in advance (usually they are inspired) helps me plan out my posts. Feeling like I’m organized and well-planned helps alleviate a lot of my ‘not good enough’ anxiety.
TUNE OUT OF SOCIAL MEDIA
We seriously all need a break from social sometimes. I find that if I leave my phone for hours without checking IG, Facebook, Twitter, email- etc, I am happier. I love tuning into what’s around me and not being so absorbed in the highlight reel world. I know for many bloggers this is really hard. Especially when you rely on social media for money. Right now I feel fortunate to be able to take long breaks and step back into it without missing a beat. It helps me to focus on me and not compare myself to others, the ultimate perfectionist mistake.
TAKE A WALK
This is my favorite remedy for any stressful situation. I love taking the dogs on long walks and listening to the hustle and bustle of runners on the trail and the leaves rustling the trees. Mother Nature is a really good friend if you take the time to listen to her once in a while. Get out, get exercise, and breathe. It will help you more than you know.
READ A BOOK OR TAKE A BATH. OR DO BOTH.
My summer has been all about the good reads & the bath tub. I love moments of relaxation. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to sneak away and get a good bubble bath going once the baby is born. Reading is such a pleasure for me because I love escaping reality. I love looking at life through someone else’s eyes sometimes. And I just love a good love story. When I’m anxious or feeling like I need a break, I’ll grab my kindle and open a new book. This is more a remedy for stress than perfectionism, but I find they come hand in hand in my world lately.
REALIZE WHAT MATTERS
Whenever I get stressed out with my blogging checklist, I have to take a moment to step back and remember that this is a hobby, it’s something I do because I love it, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t make or break me. I am so much more than a blogger. I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, and a husband who makes me very happy. I live in a really neat city and have two furry side kicks to explore it with. Life is good.
As much as I can preach about the best ways to fight perfectionism and stress, it’s not an overnight fix. I still struggle with it regularly. I have to remember to practice what I preach and take a deep breath. And it will be an ongoing process.
What are your strategies for fighting perfectionism?