Battling Perfectionism

November 15, 2015

I'd felt a tugging at my heart for over a year to start writing again.

I'd push it off. 

"It's too much time." 
"No one cares about what I have to say." 
"People might judge me." 
"It's not worth the work."

The tugging kept coming. I couldn't push it off. I finally shared this little secret with Zach, expecting him to think it was a silly idea. (Not because he's unsupportive, just because I think my ideas are lame). He was insanely supportive and thought it was the best idea. He'd push me to write or design the blog when I didn't want to, even designing things on his own to show me. We spent hours talking about buying a domain, coming up with a writing focus, creating a brand, etc. So much support I was just sure my "lame" idea wouldn't have.

I really didn't have an excuse to not go forward at that point. Intense promptings and tugging at my heart. Super supportive partner in crime. Stories I felt like could be of use to others.

So I started writing again in August and launched this blog. I haven't written much here, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I have been SO grateful for that. Likes, comments, shares, texts. So much love in this club.

But it wasn't 100% positive. Some people didn't like it. Some of them - they already don't like me and I lost no sleep over their opinions. But the ones I so desperately care about and want to like me - those hit me hard.

I felt so ashamed. I knew some of my thoughts were helping others (and helped me quite honestly), but my honesty about anxiety, etc and my stories made some uncomfortable. And I felt ashamed.

Ashamed I'm not perfect and ashamed I had this stupid idea to tell others how imperfect my life is.

I felt like Elsa: "Conceal, don't feel. Don't let them know." I didn't want anyone to know I had less than perfect, happy feelings. I didn't want people to have negative opinions about me because I experience anxiety, depression, and a less-than-perfectly-happy life. My perfectionism and desperate desire to have a few crucial people accept me came back full force. 

So I ran away from this blog. Ideas would pop into my head each week. There have been some significant milestones in my personal life and on a large scale that I felt compelled to write about. 

"You need to write about this." 

But I'd push them down harder each time, anticipating what possible negative comments I'd get from each idea. I let those significant things pass by, refusing to acknowledge them, out of fear. 

"No, they'd hate this. They'd think I'm so stupid or childish or x, y, z."

So I've been silent for 2 months. 

But the ideas aren't going away. 

I went to a seminar a few weeks ago for the Utah Women & Leadership Project. It focused on perfectionism and how it can cripple us. We spoke about shame and how it paralyzes us from moving forward. Most importantly for me, they talked about trying to earn love and acceptance, "hustling for love," - how you don't have to earn your worth and acceptance. You have worth because you exist.

It's silly to be ashamed when you get such a small percentage of negative feedback. And it's silly to be ashamed for being imperfect and human...and then silly to be ashamed for being honest about it.

That night, I resolved to leave my cone of shame and start writing again. It's taken a few weeks to lean on Zach and gather my resolve, but I'm here now. 

I've let fear of judgement and negative comments rule my life for 27 years and it needs to stop. 100% positive feedback will never exist. If people are committed to misunderstanding or judgement, then I'll never earn their acceptance anyway. I'll never be "good enough" or "perfect enough" to penetrate that barrier. And that can't be my burden to carry anymore. 

I need to follow the tugs on my heart. I need to follow that inner voice.

I'm trying to let go of the perfectionism and shame.
I'm trying to not care so much about others' opinions.
I'm trying to not be ashamed of imperfection or honesty.
I'm trying to follow the tugs of my heart.

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5 thoughts

  1. Elyse,
    You're amazing. You truly are. I needed to hear what you just wrote. And guess what, I'm working on those things too, and it's really great to hear your perspective. We need more women like you in this world, no more fake, no more pretending to be something we're not. Life is hard and we're all in this together. Please keep writing. I need it.
    -Courtney Glausi

    1. Courtney! You are so kind! I really appreciated your comment. It IS so nice and comforting to know we aren't struggling with these things alone. I really miss your and Tony's association and wish we could be in the same ward again.

      Also, to your point about pretending and being fake - Zach and I have been working on a project we're hopefully launching this weekend that hits at that. I hope you like that one! :)

    2. I miss you so much! I also miss the Eugene YSA a lot. I can't wait to see what you have coming up :) thanks again!!

  2. PATRIARCHAL BLESSING...Just saying!