Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Imperfection is Lovable

Today, I stumbled upon an article entitled "Imperfection is Lovable: Let Yourself Be". I try not to post a bunch of psychoanalytical stuff on my blog, but the contents of the article really resonated with me.
I was communicating with a life coach who is an incredible listener, endeavoring to understand why I was constantly feeling challenged in my relationship with my husband. Together, we realized that I was creating the same expectations of perfection for him as I had carried for myself since childhood.  
A memory surfaced: me, around twelve years old, sharing my report card with my father. 
“Why are they not all As?” he questioned unapologetically. 
I glanced at my grades, noticing that I’d earned six As and one B+, and said, “I did my best.” 
“I expect all As next time,” he firmly instructed. 
“I’ll do better,” I submissively acquiesced. 
And this stuck. The need to do better than my best. The desire to be better than myself. I wanted my father’s approval. I wanted my father’s love. I wanted my father’s attention. And so, I worked even harder and earned a 4.0 GPA each semester. 
But you know what? It was never enough.I never felt enough. I never could earn the love and attention that I desperately craved from him. I needed to look within myself.Now, some twenty years later, I’m still struggling with my tendency towards perfectionism.
The scary thing is, the article describes me perfectly. It also describes a majority of the high achievers out there (which constitute a large percentage of the students in dental school). Many of those who are accustomed to the taste of success link their self-esteem to their accomplishments. In essence, they begin to internalize the message that their self-worth is based on what they have achieved, not who they are.

Which is fine, until a bad grade or two sets in. I had a mental breakdown last week after the results of our crown prep and provisional exam came back. The grade I received on my provisional was significantly lower than what I aimed for. I also scored a 68% on the indirect restorations written midterm. In that moment, all feelings of self-worth came crashing down. For those who are constantly praised by teachers, parents, and peers for their achievements, failure is a terrifying concept.

Every day, I have to remind myself that my self-esteem should not be linked to my grades. I remind myself that my friends appreciate me for who I am and not my achievements. I try to let go of the perfectionist within me.
And who wants to be perfect anyway? How boring that would be! The most fun is in the growing, in the expansion, in the learning and becoming ever more who we are. 
I release the compulsion to be perfect, to constantly achieve, do more, handle every task on my to do list immediately. 
I allow myself to be more present, to be in the moment, to remember what matters most: love.
I love the quote at the beginning of the article:
"You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging" - Brene Brown 

Embrace imperfection.

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