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 Raewyn Sangari from Shield Sisters Initiative ‘s perfectionist story. Over to you Raewyn!
In what way does perfectionism show up in your life?
The #1 way perfectionism shows up for me is through my anxiety. I’ve had an anxiety disorder since I was a child. A lot of it comes from the need to have everything in my life under control, which I know, as an adult, is not a state to live your life in. It’s still something I have to battle with a lot. So, when things are not where my brain thinks it needs to be, whether that’s by normal people’s terms of perfection or my own terms of perfection, I'll get panic attacks, feel anxious, and my chest gets really tight. I’ll be unable to proceed. I freeze and don’t know what to do.
I don’t have that sense of all or nothing that a lot of perfectionists have. What I’ll tell myself instead is ‘It doesn’t have to be all, but it needs to be 75%. And if it isn’t 75%, it isn’t perfect.’ Most of it is in my head. I won’t even tell people about my expectations. And then sometimes, over the smallest things, it becomes too much to handle and I snap at my husband.
Why do you think perfectionism is such a dream killer?
When we want things to be perfect, we put all of our energy into it being perfect instead of putting our energy into actually achieving our dreams. Perfection is an ideal and it’ll never become reality because it isn’t real. When we are too far into the ideal stage as a perfectionist it keeps our dreams from becoming real. Our dreams don’t have to be a fantasy. They can come true when we approach them in a way that’s realistic and that’s accepting of imperfections.
How does perfectionism affect your soul and success, both in work and life?
It holds me back. Let’s take my podcast for example. I launched it recently, no matter what. I wasn’t being a perfectionist about it. Even as I was listening to it, there was some background noise on my end. I could’ve been a perfectionist about and re-record it, but I didn’t.
Compare this to last year, when I created the Love This Journal & Yourself ebook. I started on the ebook in November 2015 and I didn’t actually create any pages for it until March 2016, because I was so terrified it wouldn’t be perfect. I didn’t even try. Then, someone reached out to me to include my ebook in a bundle they were selling. So, I had seven days to create it. When I did, it came out really well. I just sat there for six months doing nothing and waiting for it to be perfect, when, in reality, nothing’s ever going to be perfect.
People setting deadlines for us and expectations from other people can actually save us from perfectionism. If you’re a perfectionist and you’re quietly working on a project, it’s not going to happen. You want things to be perfect, but you’re more likely to let yourself down than to let someone else down.
What does embracing imperfection mean to you?
I think that the beautiful things in the world fall into those imperfect moments. When my husband proposed to me, we went on a hike up a mountain. It was a surprise for me, but he had it all planned out. I complained the whole way up. When he got down on one knee, I thought he was falling off the mountain. I freaked out a little about it, before realizing he was proposing.
If it had been the perfect proposal and I hadn’t complained the whole way and I didn’t think he’d fallen down, it would’ve been a nice story to tell too. But the real story makes who we are and it captures the moment. Imperfection captures all of the emotions versus the robot-ness that is perfection.
What’s the single most important thing about perfectionism that’s holding you back?
I always subscribed to this idea of ‘Everything happens at a perfect time’. So, if I didn’t feel the time was perfect, it held me back. But I’ve come to realize that the thought of it not being perfect is just in my head.
Tips and tricks about dealing with perfectionism? Share them!
I try to talk to someone else before setting a deadline or when I’m starting a project. I’ll have them check in and see how the project is doing. Or I’ll make it a point to reach out to that person if I feel like I’m holding myself back.
But sometimes we don’t realize we’re holding ourselves back. So, what I do is take out my journal twice a day and reflect on my day, write down what I’m grateful for, and set an affirmation. That way I set myself up to reflect and find those moments where I might've shown too much perfectionism.
Gratitude, thinking about small wins, and thinking about what I can improve the next day, are big things for me. It gives me the chance to do better and, at the same time, if I didn’t do well, I can do better tomorrow.
Share a favorite quote or mantra that you use to remind yourself that who you are and what you do is good enough?
The affirmation I mostly use is something like ‘It’s okay if this goes awry.’ I also use ‘This is only a season’.
I really like this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’ It helps me focus on this very one moment. This is what I have. These are the lemons I have now, so I’ll make lemonade with this.
WHO IS THIS PERFECTLY IMPERFECT, SOUL-CONNECTED CREATIVE?
With soul talks, girl dates and coffee fueling her soul, Raewyn is the founder of Shield Sisters Initiative, an online community for female entrepreneurs seeking support on prioritizing self-love and a positive mindset. Vulnerable and strong are two words often used to describe her. She’s raw and real because being something else is not as much fun!
Raewyn is a mama bear to a strong-willed Warrior Queen toddler and wife to her high school best friend. For over 10 years, Raewyn has mentored girls and women, empowering them to embrace self-love.
Wendy, again! Phew, that was SO powerful! Thank you, Raewyn, for sharing your story so courageously. Make sure to show Raewyn some love in any of the places linked above.
Are you inspired by Raewyn's story and ready to let go of your perfectionism? Make sure to download my FREE perfectionism-busting workbook. Just click the button below!