“Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.” - Brene Brown
I read this statement by Brene Brown several years ago and it completely changed my world. Imagining perfection as this heavy metal shield I have to lug around was so real and tangible I could almost physically feel it crushing me.
And I wonder if this is what we’re doing with our social media accounts? Building a giant 100 ton shield?
It’s like we’re posting picture after picture of this “perfect” version of ourselves, welding them together with captions and edits and filters, and then forcing ourselves to stand there, holding them up, pretending like that’s who we really are.
Always happy, always pretty, and always doing something amazing. (And with really great arms because a. We know how to take pictures so they're not smushed against our bodies and b. The shield is really freaking heavy.)
Here’s my reality: I’ve recently started crying a lot - like I tear up watching the Bachelor or listening to my Drew Barrymore audio book. I change into my husband’s t shirts and old sweats as soon as I come home. And I pick up dog poop at least three times a day.
Exciting stuff right?
But actually, it is.
I love my small little life. To me it’s big and beautiful and more than I ever could have imagined. I miss that though, or at least forget it when I start trying to be perfect.
I miss a lot in life when I'm hiding behind the shield of perfection.
When we live behind a shield we can't experience real life, real friendships, with all the people on the other side. And, in the same way, the world can't truly experience us.
Now, I want to make a distinction between perfectionism and striving to be your best.
Striving to be your best is working hard to live the life you know you were made to live. Getting up every day and asking yourself what you can contribute, how you can bring more beauty, more love, more kindness into the world. Perfectionism is a single minded obsession with creating an image that other people will worship.
Really though, I think that might be what it’s about. We want people to worship us. To be in awe of our beauty, our vacations, our accomplishments, our life.
Why? I wonder.
When I actually think about it. The people that I’m truly in awe of are the ones who let me into their reality. The ones who let me see that their marriage is hard, but they’re fighting for it. The ones who let me see that pregnancy isn’t just cute photo’s and glowiness, it’s also a whole lot of hormones and a little bit of waddling. The ones who let me see them cry and laugh and do both with abandon.
These humans make me feel alive and connected to this world, because they show me a life that I can see and touch and actually relate to.
Choosing to put the shield down was one of the most freeing moments of my life and for me it all started by simply sharing my story - letting a few trustworthy people into who I am, and then gaining the confidence to let more and more people see that girl. There are definitely days I pick it up again, days I’m afraid of what people think of me. But I've tasted the life of striving to be MY best instead of perfect and there's nothing sweeter, nothing more empowering.
I want that for you, friend.
Be Bona Fide. Be free.