Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

For those of you who know me…you may have caught on to probably my biggest life flaw…perfectionism.

I’m convinced this is a disease that can really mess up your life if not spotted and confronted.

I’ve had many “smacked upside the head” moments…and I still struggle.

Today was my 3rd big smack upside the head in the past month.

If you follow my blog, my first intervention is talked about in my post “burnt out” and you can definitely see a theme and progression in my life based on my posts: (I’ve Been Living  All WrongLearning to Have the Time of My Life Every DayI Have the Worst Love Language)

Anyways, today I was at a women’s retreat entitled “Simple Ways to Increase My Peace”

I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty embarrassed by all my draining habits of perfectionism that were blatantly pointed out to me today at this retreat. And I needed that.

You see…when you’re a perfectionist, you literally think that you can control everything, and that it is possible to make everything go as planned, and if it doesn’t it is somehow YOUR fault and YOU should be able to fix it.

As you know…life never goes as planned…so when you’re a perfectionist, it’s constantly causing stress and worry and guilt, and you somehow believe it’s all your fault.

For me…I convince myself I can do this single mom business AND be a full time grad student AND pay for it all AND get straight A’s while doing it AND work part-time AND maintain social sanity AND do odd side jobs to stay out of debt AND work out AND cook/clean enough to feel a little less guilty about having no rent AND be involved with Church AND never ask for help.

So when I do all that, and convince myself that this is actually humanly possible to do this by myself….the moment I start falling behind (which happens every day since this is a humanly impossible checklist that I for some reason judge myself by) I am filled with stress, worry, and guilt.

I feel guilty that I burden my parents with living at home

I worry that I actually can’t be a good, single mom

I worry that I won’t get married and won’t be able to give my daughter a father or siblings

I worry that I won’t find a job that will give me financial security

I worry that if I do find a job, I will have to sacrifice being a good mom, just so I can afford to live

I worry that I have to choose between being a good mom and having a social life

I worry that no matter what I do, I will be criticized

I feel guilty and stressed every day when I don’t get everything done that I planned

 These of course are all completely irrational…and I know it…but they still get to me and suck away my joy.

I know My parents love being able to support me during this season of my life.

I know I am a good mom.

I know my abilities and skills will land me a job.

I know the career I am seeking will give me the balance to be a good mom (that’s why I chose it)

I know that even if I am not in control of giving my daughter a traditional family…that she is surrounded with an even bigger family of people that love her so much.

I know that more people love me and support me than criticize me.

I know that my worth does not come from how many things I can check off a list at the end of the day.

However, this messed up thinking caused by perfectionism is sucking away all of these truths…and in turn, sucking away my peace and my joy.

I’m finally confronting it.

Luke 12:25 “And which of you by being anxious can add one hour to his span of life?”

Translation….worrying is not going to give you any extra time on this earth..so what’s the point?

My old basketball coach used to always say “control what you can control”.

Nothing else matters. We will never be able to control the people around us…

And luckily, no one can control us either (unless we let them).

Today, at this retreat, I was reminded that I can’t control my life and what happens in my life…I can only control how I am going to live it.

I need to learn how to simply let go of this control over my life that I never actually had.

I’m in a unique season of my life where things are changing constantly…

  • I’m trying to potty train my toddler
  • I just got out of an engagement
  • I’m figuring out my life as a single mom again
  • I’m nearing the end of my grad program and looking for internships
  • I’m starting a new business on Etsy
  • I’m making new friends
  • I’m paying for more things

So…if I can’t learn to control the things that I can control…I’m kind of doomed when you look at that list.

And let me tell you…I think I’ve wasted enough of my sanity by worrying and feeling guilty for far too long.

Things aren’t going to go as planned…and I’m going to do my best to respond in ways that I can control…rather than stress about everything I can’t control.

This prayer is saving my life:

God grant me

the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things that I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

I am going to continue on this path of life. I don’t know where it will lead, who I will meet, or how long the journey is…but I know I am going to do everything in my power to worry less, enjoy more, and find peace by doing the little things that I can control each and every day.

I hope you will join me.

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5 thoughts on “Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

  1. What a blessing for you to discover this wisdom at an early age. I have seen women carry this into their 40’s and 50’s and it affects their marriage and their children as well as their own peace. Praise God for such a wonderful retreat! I love the name of it. Also, “Control what you can control.” is great. I will be spotlighting this post in my 7QTs this week. 🙂 Praying for you and your little one, Cindy

  2. This is beautiful, Raquel! You are working so hard to be the best mom and student you can be, and that is amazing. What a gift to your daughter to have such a hard working mama who strives to give her the very best! I’m so glad this retreat and time with friends has refreshed you 🙂

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