Along with being addicted to school, I am a perfectionist. I don’t expect it from others but I expect it from myself. I have come a long way in terms of not aquaiting my own personal value, as a person, with my academic success but I often have relapses. Por ejemplo, I recently got a B+ on a paper for one of my research seminars. While this sounds fabulous to some it is horror to me. I had visions of my dream PhD program slipping far, far away in my head. I proceeded to get in my car after class and cry all the way home. At some point during during the sob-fest I thought to myself, “This is utterly ridiculous. Who I am has nothing to do with my grades or my gpa or my gre score!” I have been struggling all week with feelings of inadequicy. So, many of us are in this boat. We expect too much of ourselves and beat ourselves up when we aren’t freaking perfect all the time. Here are ten tips to deal with what happens when we aren’t the perfect ten!
1. Recognize when you’re pushing yourself too hard. You know you best. Recognize what it looks like in your life to be asking too much of yourself and then do something about it.
2. Ask why you push so hard for perfection. Are you trying to get straight A’s because you are confident in yourself? Or is it because you feel inadequate if you don’t get those A’s? Dig a little deeper and ask why.
3. Have a life line. I have people I can call any place any time who will listen to me cry and encourage me. These people are invaluable. Know who they are in your life and CALL THEM!
4. Take a breather. Sometimes just removing yourself from the situation and taking a few breathes can help put a situation in perspective.
5. Tell yourself what is true. Sometimes I literally need to speak out loud what I know to be true about myself. “I am not a failure.” “School is not who I am.” Just hearing it helps sometimes.
6. Hang words of encouragement where you will see them. For me this is bible verses, for you it might be quotes. Write it on a little post it and stick it in your car, on your desk, wherever. Remind yourself that you are not inadequate.
7. Remember that you are not alone. We live in a world that asks unattainable perfection from everyone, especially women. You aren’t the only one.
8. Get advice. Wise council is invaluable. Talk to older, wiser women who have been in your shoes.
9. Accept when you have done your best. For many of us, our best is not good enough. But really, it is. Be ok with your best.
10. Remember that is it OK to be imperfect. Embrace your flaws. Expecting perfection from ourselves is completely ludicrous. Embrace your weakness, it is ok. We don’t have to be perfect no matter what people tell us and no matter what we tell ourselves.