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Adulting and Friendship: I'm Sick of "Perfect"...

I now realize how strong my perfectionist tendencies are.

Friends who know me well have seen it all along, I'm sure (and are probably rolling their eyes.) Especially lately, perfectionism seems to be an elegant coat I want to continually wrap myself in. But I need to resist. I think all of us should.

Highly esteemed author and professor Brené Brown beautifully explains the dangers of perfectionism:

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. 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 20-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.

Boy do I know that 20-ton shield very well.

Even when young, I strove to be socially correct because I saw this as the magical way to friends. I’d painstakingly try to wear the “right” clothes, say the “right” words, and basically keep myself together in a big shiny suit of armor (forget just the shield) that would attract friends. I wrongly believed that closeness, love, faithfulness, and all the mushy stuff found in good relationships, and life, would then follow.

Instead, I continually find that the way to worthwhile life experiences, relationships, and shared moments is not a result of speaking or acting flawlessly. Some of the best connections can spring from feeling awkward – say at a party – and meeting that other person who feels just as awkward as I do. Or calling a friend because I've messed up and my self-esteem is blown.

The older I get, the more the perfect person is less attractive. I even find myself unfollowing Instagramers that make their accounts a little too picture perfect. Do you know what I mean? Show me a little reality I can identify with. Because the bonding and pleasure that springs from journeying alongside someone who struggles, just like me, can be as comforting and attractive as a big cozy blanket. Good looks? The right outfit? The spotless house? Who cares.

Bit by bit, I’m ripping down my impossible standard, as I see that some of my best friendships have been formed when I let my guard down, tossed aside social norms, and become more than real, even vulnerable.

What a sigh of relief.


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