By Nadine Saad
"I always call perfectionism 'fear in high-heeled shoes'."
Hearing Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my favourite writers, say this in an interview was just the wake-up call I needed.
I used to pride myself on being a perfectionist. But these candid words held up a mirror that I instantly knew I needed to look into more closely. And look closely I did.
Perfectionism is one of the most toxic illusions we buy into. And it’s exhausting.
It stifles creativity, curiosity, authenticity, spontaneity and intuition. It holds us back from taking action and making progress.
And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, it’s a standard we set out of fear of not measuring up.
I'd struggled with perfectionism for years, yet all the while I happily convinced myself that it was a positive trait.
I pressured myself to achieve perfect results, not realising that I was actually trying to hide that I didn’t feel good enough underneath it all. I couldn't see that I was masking fears of failure and rejection at the time. Burning the candle at both ends while swanning gracefully on the surface.
I believed I needed to look the part perfectly, trying to gloss over the parts of me that I thought were flawed.
And I projected these fears outwardly, stressing about people and things around me in very unhealthy ways.
Until I realised where the pressure of perfectionism was stemming from.
While this was a massive reality check, it came as an incredible relief at the same time. Once I could see it clearly for what it was, I was able to let perfectionism go very quickly. And this felt like an enormous exhale. I no longer felt I needed to reach for an impossible "ideal", and could see what was driving this pattern with a lot more compassion.
I was able to accept that I will never be perfect. None of us are or ever will be perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. And I could finally accept that this is perfectly alright.
But above all, it meant I could accept myself - just as I was - that little bit more.