Last month I read "Grace, Not Perfection" by Emily Ley with my Mastermind Mamas and I thought it was a brilliant book (I told some of my British friends that I was going to start using that adjective more often). The ideas in this book are things that NEED to be heard by a lot of women out there. But, to be honest, I’m not one of those women. I spent a lot of my time reading thinking, “I’m not like that.” Or, “I don’t do that.” In this book, she outlines typical ways that a lot of women strive to get things perfect. Mothering, keeping a tidy house, finding work/ life balance. And she suggests ways that we need to have grace with ourselves. Again, brilliant.
But this grace thing is something I’m already pretty good at.
My motto lately has been “good enough.”
Emptied the clean dishwasher but didn’t load in the dirty dishes? They can hang out in the sink for another day. #goodenough
Kid’s not eating dinner? Four broccolis then he can have the cookie. #goodenough
Only responded to 6 emails out of 10 today? #goodenough
For these reasons, I don’t consider myself a perfectionist. My house is always slightly untidy and I don’t care. (And, by the way, I’ve stopped telling people, “excuse the mess” when they come inside, because if they’re judging me over that, then I don’t want to be friends with them anyway).
I rarely have mom guilt. I’m a freakin’ rockstar mom.
And running a business from home with THE MOST TALKATIVE 4-year-old on the planet by my side? Yeah, until there are 36 hours in a day, some things just aren’t going to get done. And I’m ok with that.
I’m not saying all of this to tell you guys how awesome I am. I’m always trying to learn about how the female brain works. Because in my line of work, I’ve learned that a lot of challenges women face stem from mental and emotional struggles. (I recently wrote a post about this). Now I’m thinking, if Emily Ley put out this book and it resonates with so many women, who considers themselves perfectionists, and why do they consider themselves one?
So I prompted this question to my Mastermind Mamas.
Some of them have trouble accepting when they don’t check off ALL the things on their to-do lists, or they feel mom guilt for having a rough day with their kiddos, or they feel stressed out by the amount of laundry that HAS to be done. They feel pulled in so many different directions. Society is telling them to do more. To say “yes” to everything. To figure out a way to have it all.
But my friend, Jen, who responded by saying she sometimes has trouble living in the present (and considers herself a perfectionist partly for this reason), was also the same person who had sent me two mini essential oils glass bottles in the mail a few weeks prior. When she shipped them at the post office, she sent me a Voxer and said, “Let me know if they arrive in one piece. I kinda just threw them in an envelope. I have this thing about checking off as many tasks as I can on my to-do list so sometimes I don’t do things with as much care as I should. I’m working on it.”
That was really interesting to me, because if I were to send those bottles, I would wrap them in bubble wrap, probably tie them in jute, seal it extra good with packing tape, and use our family stamp to make our return address look pretty. Dare I say, I would try to wrap them perfectly?
So now I'm thinking: what else do I do like this? I fold laundry the EXACT same way every time (even my husband’s underwear). I re-read/ revise/ change word choice anytime I write (in my emails, social media posts, this blog) so many times my eyeballs hurt. When I hand wash pans, I make sure they are thoroughly clean. Apparently I do a lot of things with extra care. As a result, these things take me twice as long as it would take a normal person. (Hence why I’m not checking off as many tasks on my to-do list.) So now that I realize I do this, should I be calling myself a perfectionist? Isn’t that what a perfectionist is? Someone who tries to do things perfectly?
So this is the thought I want to leave you with today: what is the definition of a perfectionist anyway? Who coined this term? And why do women almost wear it as a badge of honor when they call themselves one? The title seems to have a negative connotation, yet there’s this level of camaraderie between women who call themselves one. Are you cool enough to be in the Perfectionists Club?
You know what I say? Let’s ditch it. Logically, we all KNOW that no one is perfect and there’s no such thing as perfection. Aren’t we all just working on ourselves the best way we know how? Maybe some of us are good at focusing on one task and doing it with extra care, and some of us are good at multi-tasking. Aren’t there benefits to both? Maybe some of us live in the present moment, while others like to think about their futures and remember their pasts. Aren’t both invigorating? Maybe some of us have immaculate homes and some of us have “lived-in” homes. Isn’t there beauty in both? Let’s quit the comparison game and just BE who we are.
So now, I want to hear from you. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below.
Jen and I have open enrollment in our Mastermind Mama now through June 30th, so if you’d like to have daily conversations like this with us, we’d love for you to join us. More info here: jackiegarnett.com/mastermindmamas