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The Danger of Perfectionism + Comparison

above: a picture I've hesitated posting for awhile because it made me feel insecure about myself  + didn't seem to fit my standard of perfect. I figure it's about time to get over the fear of what other people think + show you the face of a girl who is happiest when she isn't comparing herself to others. 

// "Be ye therefore perfect" //

All my life I've wanted to use this scripture as a checklist or a measuring tape for my success. I grew up with an ultra talented mom who was the epitome of a "perfect" homemaker, wife, and mother. She taught me how to cook, clean, sew, paint, play the piano, mow lawns, read the scriptures, pray, plan family home evening lessons, (etc. etc. etc. etc.) all while teaching these same things to my four siblings, fulfilling her church callings, serving in the community, making it to all of our dad's games, and keeping a spotless house. I remember at age 7 sitting on the edge of the tub and watching my mom putting on makeup and doing her hair. I looked at her and thought "She is the most beautiful person in the whole wide world. My mom is perfect." I knew that if I could become exactly like my mom when I got older, I could be "perfect" too. 

Throw in the fact that I have grandma's, aunts, and cousins who when combined can do everything and anything, and you have the complete circle of "perfect" women. Growing up around this culture of talented, organized, and driven women made me want to grow up and be exactly like them. It was decided. Let the record show that when I grew up I would be dressed to the nines everyday, with a sparkling clean house that was decorated just like the shows I watched on HGTV. I would marry a handsome returned missionary, and I would find pure joy in cooking us gourmet dinners. I would find time to balance my church callings, job (just let me be a stay at home mom!), and home life all while finding time to travel, exercise daily, and be in short, "perfect'.

..... Well....

Now I'm grown up. 

Let's take a tally of how my plan is going so far.

 - I make the effort to get ready everyday, but by about 6:30 I'm already out of my nice clothes and into the biggest oversized shirt I can find and a pair of yoga pants. (if I have pants on at all.)
 - My house is pretty tidy, but heaven knows that if you open my closet you'll find last week's laundry still not put away, and most the things I've worn in the past few days on the floor. 
 - I did marry a handsome returned missionary (check!), but pure joy and cooking dinner are never in the same sentence. Poor Colten can't count on his fingers and toes how many times I've said, "Hey, I don't feel like cooking tonight. again. Alberto's?"
 - Right now I have two church callings which make our already busy lives a little chaotic. (not gonna lie, I've about had it with overbearing cub scout mom's)
 - I'm starting my first "real" job in two months and I'm terrified. And kid's won't be in the picture for a while. 
 - I've only been on an airplane once, and don't even know where half of the places in the world are. 
 - I exercise a few times a week, but honestly its the thing that gets pushed to the bottom of my "to do" list on busy days. 

Obviously, I'm way off track of my Plan for Perfection. And even though I'm able to make it seem light hearted now, I beat myself up over the fact that I haven't achieved this "mormon woman perfection" yet. Throw in the fact that I've always had low self esteem + that our actions & thoughts are so guided by standards set on social media, it's created this awful voice saying I'm never going to be enough. 

I feel like I have a lot of strengths and talents, but heaven knows I was born a perfectionist and that "doing my best" will never be enough unless its literally THE BEST OUT THERE. I work hard to not compare myself to others, but it's so easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to the highlight reels we see everyday on instagram, facebook, or other blogs. I constantly see examples of women (some known and unknown) who have skinny + toned bodies, carrying a baby on each hip, dressed in the newest style, with perfect hair + makeup, telling the social media world about the new business they just started successfully on a whim. They show perfection in little squares with perfect aesthetic in their feed. They live in perfect homes with beautiful natural light, can create perfect candid moments using photography skills they just "picked up over the weekend". 

Am I the only one who starts to feel inadequate? 

This post came as the result of a really hard day yesterday, and the most beautiful answer to prayers given today. 

Yesterday, I cried because these feelings of inadequacy, low self esteem, and failure crept up out of their dark place and right into the center of my heart. I started to really believe that these feelings I was having were true and that I was of not worth. I'm sad to say that this is not the first day where I've had this kind of experience. So, I did the one thing that brings me comfort every time. I prayed to my Heavenly Father, asking for some relief from the bad feelings I was having about myself. I asked for comfort and assurance that I was enough, and that I would be able to have my heart lifted. I fasted this morning for the ability to start loving myself again. Then I got dressed and went to church. 

If ever there was a moment where I felt love from my Heavenly Father, this was it. 
The lesson for today? Getting over Perfectionism. 

I sat stunned that such a perfect lesson was being given on a day when I had specifically prayed and fasted to be able to look past my perfectionism + feel like my best was worth something. As I listened to the sisters in my ward share their own experiences + feelings about perfectionism and the insecurities it brings, I started to realize a couple things. 

1) Men are that they might have joy - not guilt trips. 
If I didn't exercise every day, it was probably because I was busy doing things that made me happier - like spending time with my husband, or reading a good book out in the sun. No need to guilt trip myself!
If I didn't make a cute treat + handout to take to my visiting teaching sister this month, it was probably because I was doing things that made me happier - like eating the treat with colten while watching netflix. No guilt trip needed! 
If I didn't post a mushy picture of me + my husband on instagram this weekend, it was probably because I was doing things that made me happier - like keeping some things to ourselves + focusing on doing fun things like fishing + canoeing at the lake. Why feel guilty?

2) Everything does not require your best. 
We get wrapped up in the idea that we need to excel at everything. HELLO?! Why?! Honestly it's exhausting to put 100% into everything we do. I am really good at some things, so I should be happy with myself over those accomplishments instead of beating myself because I didn't do perfectly at things that don't matter as much. Do you need to be perfect at washing the dishes? No, and in the end it doesn't matter if they sit there overnight... or until monday. I would rather put my whole heart into the important things like loving my spouse + family, or strengthening my testimony, or making it to the temple regularly than trying to have a perfectly decorated house, or trying to win the instagram game. 

3) Comparison is the thief of joy. 
We've heard it and pinned it a billion times on pinterest, but it's got some truth to it. You will never have someone else's life. You might not be able to run a marathon like them, or travel like them, or have the things they have. BUT GUESS WHAT? They will never get to have your life either. Once we remind ourselves that we were all here with different talents, opportunities, and struggles, we can be grateful and happy with our own lives. 

4) Perfection isn't possible
Remember how I told you about my mom + aunts + other women I know being perfect? Though they are wonderful women who work hard + have talents, their lives aren't perfect and neither are they. ( I say this so lovingly!) It only appeared that way. Now that I'm older I realize that their perfect lives were marked with heartaches, challenges, and some of the same struggles I find myself facing today. Perfection isn't attainable and I think we were designed that way. 

So - to finish up this huge blog post. 
I know that even if my life isn't "perfect", no one's actually is, so I'm going to be happy. 
I am going to be happy because I have a wonderful life. 
I am going to be happy because I still have new things to learn + things to focus on. 
I am going to be happy, because I no longer want to be perfect. I just wanna be Paisley, who is good at being a peacemaker, can cook a mean stirfry, and can rock a messy bun + worn out jeans like nobody's business. 

So grateful for answered prayers + the ability to see myself in a new light. 
Love P

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