Hi friends, Wendy here! Welcome to the #perfectionistproblems interview series. My mission with The Gratefulist is to help creatives let go of their perfectionism and embrace their perfectly imperfect selves.
I’ve personally learned so much from other people's perfectionist stories and that’s why I’m sharing these stories in a weekly interview series on the blog, in the hope of helping you deal with your perfectionism. Reading about personal experiences is a powerful thing and I believe there’s so much you can learn from these stories and insights.
Today, I’m very grateful to share Allie Tymo from allietymo.com ‘s perfectionist story. Over to you Allie!
In what way does perfectionism show up in your life?
Perfectionism shows up in my life, initially, through internal chatter. I feel like perfectionism is based off of this idea that we are not enough, that we need to strive more, and run towards the next thing. And doing all of that flawlessly.
In my life I definitely see that in things like comparison. You see somebody else’s presentation of themselves online and that can be really polished. And then, you look at yourself in your imperfect glory and you think ‘I need to be like this person. I need to do everything perfectly and I’m not allowed to make mistakes. I’m not allowed to be imperfect, because if I’m imperfect it means that I’m not enough.’
That is the story that can run through my mind and I think it also runs through the minds of so many other people. I feel like it’s so true that we’re never alone in anything. What I feel and what you feel, we’ve all felt. I take comfort in the fact that we’re all in this together and we all want the same things.
Why do you think perfectionism is such a dream killer?
A dream killer... that’s such a good way to put it. Perfectionism is a moving target that you’ll never hit. It’s always out there and you’ll never get it. As you’re learning more and you’re growing and evolving, you’re never going to be where you want yourself to be. Because you’re always going to strive and to grow. That’s just human nature. When you place the parameters of perfectionism around it, you put yourself in a box. And it’s a box you can’t break out of. So, it really is just stifling.
I have this ebook that is available for free on my website now, but, gosh, I guess it took me about three years to finish it. I had everything except for the last chapter done for two and a half of those years. It was just sitting there, but I wanted it to be better and I wanted to add more value to it. I wanted all of these things and I just felt creatively blocked. I couldn’t move forward. I couldn’t release it, because I felt like I needed to hold on to it and make it better somehow. Then, after the book had been gathering dust for a while, I read it and I was like ‘This is great! Why did I do this myself?’.
Wanting things to be perfect perpetuates this resistance and keeps you exactly where you are.
How does perfectionism affect your soul and success, both in work and life?
For me, everything comes back to how it feels energetically. How does it feel in my body? How does it feel in my life? How does it feel when I’m showing up? Relating this to perfectionism, it feels very constricting. I feel blocked, stagnant, and stuck. Like there’s no way out of it. The expectations and pressures we put on ourselves, they can feel so heavy.
When I think about the opposite of that, when I give myself permission to be messy and be imperfect, my creativity flows. I have more ideas. I feel more expansive and open. So, it feels just wildly different.
What does embracing imperfection mean to you?
Surrender and acceptance. Surrendering my energy to where I’m at. Surrendering all of the emotions I feel, whether I’m feeling joyful or I’m feeling sadness or whatever it is that’s coming up for me. And accepting that wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, it’s exactly where I need to be.
I don’t want to discount the work that it takes to get there, because it’s so easy to say ‘Just embrace imperfect. Just be imperfect. Surrender. Accept it. Boom, you’re done.’ It really is an ongoing process. I still feel myself falling into heavy expectations. But it’s recognizing those feelings and stories that are going through my mind in the moment and knowing to take a step back for a second. How can I be me? How can I take the pressure off and show up as myself?
Vulnerability is a big, big thing. Even if it’s so hard. I’ve found that when you embrace vulnerability, which I think is the same thing as embracing imperfection, it’s one of the most liberating things that you can do.
What’s the single most important thing about perfectionism that’s holding you back?
It’s the stories in my head of not-enoughness or having to live up to something. I’ll take the example of being a mother, because I feel like my perfectionism shot right up when that happened. Living up to this societal expectation of what a mother should be is hard. Even as a wife, a friend, or whatever you identify yourself as, there are all of these societal expectations that you feel like you have to live up to. You have to live up to this image of the perfect woman. Allowing yourself to stay stuck in that mindset is the biggest thing that holds me back.
But having the awareness that it’s happening is the thing that gets you out. Awareness is the first step. You have to have the awareness that you’re there, so that you can choose to move past it.
Tips and tricks about dealing with perfectionism? Share them!
When I’m dealing with perfectionism, creatively, I definitely need to walk away. I just need to walk away and do something fun. I go outside, play with my daughter, jump on a trampoline, go swimming… something that feels joyful. What can happen when you run into those tendencies of perfectionism is that it’s just energy that’s getting stuck. When you move your body and change your energy, that energy can flow again. That’s when you can move beyond it.
Also, I mentioned it before, awareness is important. Adopt a curiosity mindset and question your thoughts. When you tell yourself ‘I’m not enough’, ask yourself ‘Is this really true? Where’s the proof that I’m not enough?’ Keep asking yourself those questions to uncover the stories that you’re telling yourself. Because the truth is, by just showing up I’m already courageous. By showing up I’m already doing better than what I was doing. By showing up I’m evolving, I’m growing, and I’m becoming a better version of myself. By just showing up I’m serving so many people.
Share a favorite quote or mantra that you use to remind yourself that who you are and what you do is good enough?
There are a few things coming to mind. The first thing is ‘Done is better than perfect.’
Another one is ‘If not now, when?’ When is it going to be a better time? When are you going to meet the mark? There are so many times, in my own life and in working with clients, that I hear ‘I wanna know more’ or ‘I’m not an expert yet’. And I always ask ‘What does it mean to be an expert? What does it look like when you’re there?’
Wendy, again! Phew, that was SO powerful! Thank you, Allie, for sharing your story so courageously. Make sure to show Allie some love in any of the places linked above.
Are you inspired by Allie's story and ready to let go of your perfectionism? Make sure to download my FREE perfectionism-busting workbook. Just click the button below!