I am a perfectionist. I can’t just settle. There’s this fight in me that won’t let me give anything but all I have, and that is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing in that I’ve always had to work hard and to the height of my ability for everything I’ve ever had. As a little girl that could mean collecting cans to turn in for money to save or being an 18 year old working two jobs at 50-60 hours a week as a full time student while volunteering with a ministry. This has always been in me, and it has driven me and pushed me to great achievement.
The curse rests in the feeling that if it’s not perfect, it’s not worth anything.
I stepped out into the unknown by starting Grad school in August, and my feeling of terror equally matched my excitement. I watched my semester take off to a great start, but immediately would feel so upset if I missed points on assignments. I got the first two Bs I’ve ever gotten on papers in my life this semester, and I was devastated. That seems so silly, but that’s part of the problem. I was so upset because I felt like I had failed. I set that kind of idea in my mind so long ago.
I knew early on in my life that I would have to work hard for opportunities. This became more real to me as I graduated high school and realized what my life would look like in order for me to go to college. I knew it would be hard and nearly impossible, but I also saw that it was what I wanted. If it was going to get me where I wanted to go, then I knew it’d be worth it no matter how hard it was. Looking back at it, ASU was a great choice for me, and it was the exact right place for me.
It was even harder than it thought it would be. Hearing my name called and walking across that stage with my honors cords and “diploma” in my hand made it all worth it. It was so worth it, and here I am again in pursuit of learning more.
That’s the disconnect I’ve had this whole time that I just couldn’t see. This is about more than just As. This is an opportunity to learn and grow and pursue a calling to serve a specific group my heart is burdened for. In my pursuit of perfection, I lost sight of the real prize.
The real prize is the glorifying of the name of God above my want to achieve. I also have realized I have this fear of failure inside this. It’s not that I’m afraid that I will get Fs, but it’s that if I don’t live up to whatever measurement I set, I have failed everyone who believes in me. In that I forget that those who believe in me love me unconditionally and their affection will not change based on what my final grades are. They will continue to be proud of me because of my effort no matter what letters are found on my transcript.
I need to give myself this grace. I need to take the pressure off of myself so I can get back to the heart of what I am doing, and I can find joy in it instead of feeling like everything will be worth nothing unless there’s a shiny A associated with it at the end of my time in Grad school.
I see where I have fixed my eyes on that goal instead of allowing Jesus to be the standard I pursue, and in that I have allowed my joy and identity to be lost in it. NO MORE!
I am going to prayerfully make the effort to not do this to myself anymore in all areas of my life, and I would encourage you to do the same. I don’t want to get so consumed with how I think life should look that I miss out on the actual joy of living it.