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Perfection. The word spawns fear or contempt in many. There is one area in life, more than likely many areas, in which we all fall below the mark. Some are on a constant pursuit of perfection. Others are content to live their lives in a more carefree manner.

I am not one of those latter people. I am a perfectionist. My mind tells me that if something cannot be done well, then to leave well enough alone. This constant pursuit of perfection is daunting and exhausting. It is part of who I am. However, this idea of perfection was further ingrained in me growing up. I was a pastor's daughter. I was taught I was to be an example to those around me, so I better not misbehave. This coupled with my propensity toward perfection only exacerbated my proclivity to perfectionism. (Wow that's quite a sentence with all those big words and alliteration.)

The pursuit of perfection has its pros and cons. The work I accomplish is done well. I make sure of it. In fact, I don't know how to turn off whatever switch in my brain to strive toward that perfection. I take pride when my name is attached to anything. I make certain I have done the best I can. This is all good and well, however, this perfectionist streak also causes me to spend more time than I should on projects. In high school, I would continually rewrite my homework simply because I didn't like the way it looked, not because it was wrong. My roommate in college made fun of me for spending inordinate amounts of time planning and scheduling my homework. She would tease me saying I spent more time planning what I would do than actually doing it. Unfortunately, not much has changed over the years.

However, the biggest downfall of perfection is it keeps me sitting along the sidelines. Too many projects and dreams have been shelved simply because I did not feel I would be able to accomplish these tasks in the high standards in which I measure myself. This is a sad statement.

This perfection has kept me from living my life and pursuing those scary dreams. It keeps me from taking chances and risks. Let's be honest, if you only chase the dreams that are safe, you either are living a boring life or aren't dreaming big enough.

I have big dreams. However, I have to be willing to allow myself to stumble and fall. Life is anything but perfect. It is messy and filled with problems, mistakes and complications. I must learn to not focus on the failure itself, which to a perfectionist like me can be devastating. I need to focus on what can be learned from every misstep and mistake. I must remember that the mistake itself is not what is important, but what I do after the mistake that truly counts.

My life does not end when I have failures (even though it sometimes feels that way). My life continues and so should I. Life is a process of failures and successes. The sooner I realize this, the sooner I can live my life. The sooner I can begin to accomplish some of those big dreams.


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