Growth not Perfection: Notes from a Recovering Perfectionist.

I was in a cycle class the other day and in the midst of the huffing and puffing, the instructor said something along the lines of ‘we are not here to be the best, we are here to grow past our own limitations.’ It struck a chord for me. For the rest of my ride, my mantra was ‘growth, not perfection…growth, not perfection...growth not perfection.’ And, guess what? It was one of the best rides I’d ever done.

This mantra spoke to me. I come from a background of excelling in academia and high achievement, however, my own mindset led me to believe that I must be perfect in order to be worthy. I tied my worth to receiving the highest possible outcome, if I failed to reach that then I might as well crawl into a hole. Crazy, right? The outcome used to be guaranteed for me all those years of being in school. It was a simple formula: studying hard + getting the grades = reaping rewards. This formula would then be unknowingly stored away in my subconscious mind.

It’s been a little over six years since I graduated college, but I’ve realized I’ve been applying the same formula, and the same perfectionism to real life. I’m very grateful for my education and thank God for my fortunate financial circumstances growing up that allowed me that gift. However, I’ve learned that because outcomes in the real world can never be guaranteed nor predicted, perfectionism doesn’t translate. It’s like...keep the knowledge, throw out the burn-out. In the real world, running yourself into the ground just to guarantee the outcome, doesn’t work because the result is never guaranteed. I repeat, REAL WORLD = NO GUARANTEES. Academia is a man-made world, where like a science experiment, the results are carefully calculated. It’s a world in which if you’re not at the top of the class or go to the ‘right’ school then you better kiss your big dream goodbye—that’s a lot of pressure, eh? Education is important, but I’ve realized tying my self-worth to being perfect is better off cleaned out of the closet. Out of all the good that my education has given to me, this one little slice of it made me afraid that if I’m not the best, then all the action that I was inspired to take is worthless and I might as well not even try. Man...did I have to learn a lesson in ‘playing it safe.’

Since I attended a prep- school from 3 years old (Montessori thru till 12th grade), and then straight into a rigorous liberal arts curriculum for four more years...I knew NOTHING of an unregulated life. Graduating college was exciting, but it also felt a little like getting off the bus in the middle of the desert without a map. But, how do I survive?? Is there a water source?? Real life doesn’t give you a curriculum to follow nor tells you exactly what you need to know for that test...because the ‘tests’ in the real world aren’t predictable. Of course, I’m speaking to my own personal experiences and one thing that made this true for me was the fact that I’m a creative and not interested in going into more school. But I have to say...it doesn’t matter who you are... doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse, eventually the real world is going to be waiting for you, and you will have to navigate it plus make hard decisions.

I desired a career in performance and inspiring others through bringing stories and characters to life. I also aspire to be a philanthropist and give back to the world. I’m passionate about creating wealth for myself so that I have a sturdy platform to give back...and it SCARES ME TO DEATH thinking that I might not reach that aspiration. These passions have always lived in my heart, but I’ve also been held back by the fear of not being perfect and holding myself up to an impossible standard. This has led me into inaction at times instead of seizing an opportunity. Thank God I followed my intuition out to L.A. instead of being scared into graduate school. However, I have ‘failed’ in a sense but couldn’t be more grateful for it. This is because of the invaluable growth and lessons that I’ve been taught. I’ve learned from the greatest professor in the world—Dr. Freaking Universe, PhD.

After I got over my first bout of gut- wrenching fear, I got in my car and hauled ass for three days across the USA. I reached L.A. with lots of excitement but also buckets of fear. ‘What if I run out of money?’ ‘What if I end up homeless?’ ‘What if I’m stuck and have no friends and family to save me?’ Dude...I’m the ‘what if ‘QUEEN. Also known as worry and anxiety—something that I didn’t realize about myself in my old man-made academic world where the only threat was getting a bad grade, but that’s not so life-threatening as being freakin’ homeless. Because I was like this, I also attracted and listened to people with a similar mindset who also echoed these fears. So, I went into survival mode. I told myself that if I ever dipped down to certain amount in my bank account, then that’s it...sell the stock, I’m getting off the market. But, everyone knows that you have to invest in the long-haul in order to end up like Warren Buffet. I frantically grabbed onto the fabric of life, clinging on for dear life. I saw lack in my life instead of all the abundance. I didn’t trust or have faith in the flow of life. I worked jobs that took all my energy, made me miserable, and then didn’t give myself room to fail when I was auditioning...I wasn't happy unless it was perfect. I thought, I have to land this audition to get me out of this misery, but that also meant in my auditions I was sometimes a nervous wreck and didn’t allow my creativity to flow freely out of me. I tried SO HARD at life, my mantra back then was harder, harder, harder!! Which, by the way, taking action and ‘working hard’ is totally okay—IF and only if it’s aligned with your dreams and not your fears. But, at that point in my life, I was coming at everything with a great sense of unworthiness for not being perfect, and fear that I’d never attain success. Playing it safe and not allowing myself to take risks that were aligned with my dreams got me absolutely nowhere in my career and ultimately led to a two-year burnout and depression. But, again I’ve come to terms with this past, it was meant to happen to give me a lesson which is this: purge yourself of perfection, and trust that there is perfection in imperfection. Growth is perfect...follow the joy and trust it's leading to something good. (I must remind myself of this often)

This year has been a year of great personal growth, reflecting and healing. I started exploring mindset and universal laws beginning in May 2017 when I felt rock-bottom, not knowing that my studying on this subject would deepen when I lost my dear father at the end of that year. I’m choosing to lay a better foundation, and I’m in the process of building it now. Spending years and years being a ‘perfectionist’ led me into a life of burnout, anxiety, and depression plus never reaching my goals out of fear of failure. Again, I’m very grateful for all the challenges I have had to endure, because my lessons have led to growth, and there’s nothing more perfect than learning and expanding the soul.

I’m choosing to be empowered by my past, not a victim of it. I’ve started to surrender my perfectionism and I’m now choosing to build better beliefs and take action whether or not it might be in my perception as ‘perfect.’ I’m learning when you put yourself out there and take a risk, there are two things that happen, you either fly higher than you thought possible or you meet a challenge. I no longer look at challenges as a sign to give up, but as an opportunity to grow and learn. If I don’t succeed at a certain desired outcome, then I know that that particular outcome isn’t right for my highest good...I trust this. Challenges are my life’s map and compass, you gain clarity and direction through them. Taking action means GROWTH, and that’s the most perfect thing you could ever experience. When you surrender the outcome and trust the flow is when I believe you’ll see the results on the scoreboard of life.

I share this today in hopes to help others who might also be struggling with self-doubt or self-deprecation. Much love. <3