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The Pressure To Be Perfect

The Pressure To Be Perfect

When I wrote The Story Of An Imperfect Woman, I ran it by my hubby to get his blessing since it referred, not only to my quirks and imperfections, but to his. He gave me his blessing, but then he said, “I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to tell everyone all of these things.”  I asked him why, and he said, “But what about your reputation?”

I had to laugh.

I mean this guy knows me and loves me, in spite of all these imperfections that are a big part of who I am. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. And finally, I don’t either.

I remember, back in my thirties, when I felt like I had to:

•    Never make mistakes at my job (after all, someone could die)

•    Be the perfect wife (or my husband might divorce me)

•    Keep a tidy house (or the neighbors would think I was a slob)

•    Look perfect (after all, those women’s magazines tell me it’s so important)

•    Be perfect in bed (or he might trade me in for a younger model)

•    Behave perfectly (or others might not respect me)

•    Be the perfect mother (or I might screw up my daughter)

Of course, even if any one of these had been possible, these things were mutually exclusive. By definition, to even try to be perfect at one thing, I’d have to be imperfect at another. It’s enough to make even the most awesome woman bonkers!

I now consider myself a recovering perfectionist, and I no longer expect myself to be perfect. And yet, when my husband said, “But what about your reputation?” I felt the old familiar twinge. Oh yeah. What about my reputation? What will people think?

I thought about it, checked in with my Inner Pilot Light, listened to the still small voice within me, and started to laugh. I mean WHO CARES about my reputation? Who gives a flip what people think? So what if patients decide not to come to me as their doctor because I refuse to be some plastic version of myself who never makes mistakes? Why would I want those people as patients to begin with?

Who gives a flying freak if some society woman doesn’t let me in her country club? Who cares if the neighbors think I’m a slob or the people from my church discover that I took a sex workshop or that I’m twice divorced or that I have a bit of a pooch around my middle these days?

I mean seriously? What am I trying to prove?

I know my husband means well. He wants me to be successful in business, pleasure, friendships, and life, and he supports me 1000%. But if someone like him can still question – after all I’ve done to put my truth out there on the internet – whether I’m crossing the line by revealing how imperfect I am, it only shows me how much further I have to go to help encourage you to learn to love yourself exactly as you are so you can free yourself from the burden of trying to be perfect.

Imperfection As A Screening Tool

The way I see it, sharing my imperfections with you is kind of the perfect screening tool. In other words, I’m not trying to please everyone. I only care about pleasing my people – and if you read this post and decide you don’t like me anymore, then you’re not part of my tribe. Good for both of us to know, right?

I met one girl with bright pink hair and hairy armpits and she said she used her hair as a screening tool. If people didn’t love her because she had pink hair and hairy armpits, they weren’t her people.

The more you pretend to be perfect, the harder it is to find your tribe. Why not make it easy for everyone? Why not let your freak flag fly and see what happens?

The Gift In Imperfection

I’ve learned an incredible lesson since I started Owning Pink over 2 years ago. It turns out that my imperfections are not only a good screening tool, they’re actually the keys to the kingdom. In my vulnerability, authenticity, fearlessness, and sometimes uncomfortable level of disclosure, lies the secret sauce. If I was writing this blog and showing you some vanilla version of myself, I suspect most of you wouldn’t be here. If I was telling you what I thought you wanted to hear instead of what was actually true, I doubt I’d have 5 million readers and over 100,000 Twitter followers.

People care what I have to say because when you’re brave enough to expose your imperfections, you give them courage to do the same. And when we can build community based on truth and authenticity, rather than masks, false perfection, and being phoney, we heal, connect, and thrive.

Are you brave enough to share your imperfections?

Tell us one imperfect thing about you in the comments here. (I promise, we’ll all love you anyway!)

Perfectly imperfect,

****

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Revolutionarymotivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.

 

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

52 comments

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9:49PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

I am also a recovering perfectionist. Being a perfectionist was almost my demise as a youngin. I'm still very much a "type A" but I now cut myself more slack when things are not "perfect" because we do not live in a perfect world. I was never accepted much by my peers, it took me until college to realize who I really am and that that person is someone to be proud of. I'm now working on raising my 6 yr old daughter to not hold standards of perfection for herself, so she can be a healthy person.

7:49AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

Thanks! Well I guess I can be too harsh with people - that's one of my imperfectons )

12:35PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

Thanks. As a perfectionist, it's important to remember this.

2:35AM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Thank you

6:13PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Thank you!

7:55AM PST on Nov 7, 2011

i am a perfect example of someone living an imperfect life

12:04PM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

I am shy to the point where the fear of certain interpersonal situations is almost literally paralyzing. Other people usually perceive me as being stuck-up. There is probably some truth to that too.

9:12AM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

Great post Lissa!! I am VERY enthousiastic when I receive my courses in whatever over the post, then I open the books twice and then forever after leave them in a corner... ;-). Maybe someday, and maybe NOT, yay!

11:41PM PDT on Nov 3, 2011

Perfection is an obsession today for many women. By the way its also a business for plastic surgeons. Trying to be perfect only causes anxiety and pain. There is nothing like confidence and love for yourself.

10:39AM PDT on Nov 3, 2011

I hear you girl! People pleasing is my demise. I need to learn to say NO! sometimes. thanks for the amazing article for all us imperfect unique individuals

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