“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
I hope that as you read the title of this post, you scratched your heads, wondering what I (or your dad) would know about perfectionism. If that is the case, we have perfected the art of curing (or at least ignoring) the burden.
It has not been easy, I’m sure. You see, I became wired as a perfectionist. I don’t think it came from my upbringing, although it’s quite possible I have fallen victim to the perception of perfect beauty in beauty magazines and to the perfection that appears to exist in the homes of fake families on television and magazine ads. But honestly, I think I have simply wanted to do everything right, and to me, “right” has meant perfect rather than simply right for me. I have thought that if I do everything perfectly at all times, I am living my life “right” and honorably. I’ve come to realize this is not necessarily so. In fact, it is an insane way to live one’s life, because what in the heck is “perfect” anyway? Life is not a math equation.
I’d like to share a personal story with you that I hope will be helpful. As a college student (around your age), I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember feeling like everyone around me had it all figured out. I hadn’t declared a major by the second semester of my sophomore year and had to choose quite quickly. I panicked. I remember going to the career counseling office at my college and asking for help. I was given a few personality tests to take, hoping that the perfect career for me would print out in black and white. The results? An actress or a homemaker. Gee. Uhh. Thanks, Counseling Center? It didn’t help that a friend had actually proudly told me straight up that she was in college to get her “Mrs. Degree.” This was not me. Not at all. And well, public speaking scared me, so acting was out; therefore, I left feeling dejected. I went ahead and declared my favorite subject as my major, even though I didn’t know what career I’d choose because what else was there to do? So, I chose English. Do I wish I could go back and choose to double major in English and Education since I did become a teacher nine years later? You betcha.
But you know what? I figured it out and worked extra hard and learned lots of valuable lessons and met many interesting people in those nine years (not that those years were all sunshine). A year later, I met your amazing dad. It all turned out okay. If I had declared a different major, I would still be okay. The fact is that I did declare one, worked hard and graduated.
Those people who supposedly had it all figured out? Well, they didn’t. At least not everything in life. Nobody does. If you meet someone who tells you they have life figured out (career, relationships, money, God), run. Trust me.
You may not have a clue about what you want to do for a career but are working and educating yourself to figure it out. You might have a clue and may change your mind multiple times, or you may be lucky like your dad and know for certain and remain certain until you retire. All scenarios will make me and your dad proud because whichever scenario describes you right now is a part of who you are and where God is working with you. Embrace the process as we embrace you through it.
Our imperfect choices (Yes, you will make them) make us human. They make us interesting, and they make us grow. I’m not suggesting you go out and choose to make bad decisions, but I am suggesting that you not let fear keep you from making any decisions at all.
If you are in a place right now of having to choose what is right, go with your gut. Accept that it may not produce the results you hope for, but it will lead you into a direction, rather than leaving you stuck in indecision. And that sort of “stuck” leads many people in our world into depression, anxiety, and far too often, addiction.
You are not going to find a perfect career, a perfect spouse, or a perfect life. If you believe in yourself like your dad and I believe in you and like God believes in you, you will find the perfect path for you, which makes YOU, the soul that is you, pretty darn perfect.
With great love and expectations,
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