I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about simplifying, decluttering, embracing creativity and living your best life. Some have spiritually sound advice, some, not so much. But it’s all a part of my quest to live more intentionally and embrace the essentials while releasing those things which are weighing me down and causing me undue stress and anxiety.
So in the process, I picked up a truly beautiful book/journal by Emily Ley called A Standard of Grace: Guided Journal, and in it I’m finding some questions that are both tough to answer and essential to examine in my own life. For instance, she poses the questions, “Where did you get the idea that you had to be ‘put together’ in every area of your life? Who defined perfection for you?”
Honestly, I don’t like the answers. I’ve allowed the media, pinterest, instagram, and even fancy books like Ms. Ley’s determine who I should be, what I should look like, what my house should look like, and what my family should look like in order to not only be perfect, but to merely be acceptable.
Maybe, like me, you’re mildly obsessed by HGTV and Joanna Gaines is about as close to perfect as you can imagine. If only she or one of the Property Brothers would visit my home and add their special touches to it, then I could be happy. And if I had a perfectly designed office and a perfectly designed website (hello, I AM a designer after all) and everything was organized in pretty boxes on decorated shelves then I would be happy. Did I mention I need more money than I make in a year to make all these dreams come true?
It’s never going to happen. I’m raising a little girl, and I’m navigating the first years of marriage and a new business. We’re taking the biggest risk of our lives in the next six months (more on that down the road) and we don’t have time, energy or resources to make our home perfect. And I’m clueless when it comes to throwing on much more than jeans and a t-shirt, so I’ll never top any best dressed lists, even if the baby did give me time to try to look stunning every day. I’m usually grateful if I can shower twice a week…
So I’m holding myself to all these standards that I simply can’t achieve, and I get frustrated, anxious and depressed when I look around at all that I’m not and all that I don’t have. But why? Why am I doing this to myself?
There is nothing wrong with trying to make your home its best. There is nothing wrong with trying to get (and stay) organized, or creating a nook where you feel comfortable and relaxed at the end of a long day. Those are all perfectly healthy things. But when you obsess over not achieving a standard of perfection set by a glossy magazine or a big-budget TV show to the point of being miserable in your own home or anxious about inviting others over, that’s not okay. That’s not healthy.
So I invite you to examine the standards you’re holding yourself to, and who set those standards for you. Are you living with healthy expectations? Maybe, like me, you need to sit down with a journal and write out how you define perfect and who led you to that definition. Then write out what you’re really expecting from yourself each day and see if your expectations are realistic or you’re just setting yourself up to fail.
Seeing my definition of perfection and my daily expectations written down was a wake up call for me. I would never hold anyone I care about to the standards I’m holding myself to, so why am I creating an atmosphere of frustration, anxiety and failure for myself?
Are you struggling with the need to be perfect? Share your story in the comments below. And be sure to check out our previous post about deciding what’s really important in your life as you begin to set new standards.
Hello! I’m a wife and mother, a mastiff lover, a believer, writer, designer and small business owner. I love cheesy movies, bike rides and chocolate. Welcome to my world!