The Trap of Perfection
Sometimes, I get a little anxious. I think about all the things I need to do on any given day and get overwhelmed that I don't have enough hours in the day to complete them. I think about my dreams and my goals and become consumed with thoughts about whether or not I will realize them or achieve them. I worry about being the perfect mother to my son or how I can be the perfect wife to my husband. I rack my brain on ways I can improve my blog and internally chastise myself for not working hard enough in all areas of my life. Especially when I have those days where I just want to crash or veg out in front of the tv when my son goes down instead of turning my attention to my to-do list. While theoretically I understand, I'm only human, and imperfection comes with the territory, I have a hard time actually applying this concept daily and so self-satisfaction, often times seems unobtainable.
Lately, I am trying to be kinder to myself because perfection is an impossible standard to meet and one that I’ll inevitable easily and constantly fall short of. When I was pregnant, I was so focused on reading to my son in my belly every day, playing music for him or talking to him, that I never thought much about breastfeeding. I thought it was a natural thing and a given that I would easily be able to do it. Long story short, my supply started decreasing after only two months and the overwhelming guilt I experienced, couldn't have helped the situation. In that moment, my incessant need to excel took over and I tried everything to get my supply to where it needed to be. I made lactation cookies from scratch as well as bought them. I took copious amounts of fenugreek and pounded down water. The list continues. I would get a small increase but it never got to the level that it was in the hospital. The self-disappointment I experienced was seemingly insurmountable. If I'm completely honest, the pain I experienced in the hospital from my son using me as pacifier when he was born, turned me off to breastfeeding but I continued to try because society has beat it into our heads that this is what women must do and should do and even though I hated the entire experience, "good mothers" breastfeed. My husband put pressure on me to continue and expressed indirect disappointment when we had to switch to formula completely. I felt like such a failure for not being able to breastfeed my own child but moreover, I felt such immense guilt at the time for not even wanting to.
Recently, I have realized that my quest for perfection was driven by a very real desire for my mother's approval initially and then external approval, acceptance and praise. I associate being loved and liked with how perfect I could be. Obviously, a life guided by these will always be mixed with a bit of disappointment and pain as it is impossible to meet everyone's expectations. Focusing on what is within my control and doing things to the best of my ability even if it falls short of the "perfection standard” is the current goal. Taking action and not being immobilized by the fear of not being perfect, has been extremely liberating. Finally, the knowledge that real love and admiration comes from me being the perfectly imperfect person I am and not from what I accomplished or how flawless I can be, is worth its weight in gold. This is the true cloak of freedom.