Hello my gorgeous friends. How are you feeling in these unusual times?
Strike that – the heaviness of this pandemic, as well as the resulting concerns for our health, our loved ones, and our jobs can be a lot to manage. It’s all a completely understandable feeling in an uncertain place. Focusing on what we can control becomes even more important for our sanity.
So, we do what we can, with what we have, where we are.
Our neighborhood recently sent out a group message to us all, asking that for anyone who knows how to sew, to put together some cotton masks. There was a coordination of supplies, and we learned that many of our neighbors owned sewing machines but very, very few knew how to work them. Having spent so many years in the fashion industry, I did know how to use various types of sewing machines, but it had been many years since I had. My next-door neighbor let me borrow hers.
Let me say – my first masks were rough.
The bobbin broke. The needle bent. My stitches were garbled.
After adjusting the tension and re-threading the needle countless times, I finally had some working models. They weren’t pretty, but they would do.
This reminded me of all those early years of beating myself up for perfection – years of listening to that constant drive, trying harder, and the resulting frustration when I felt that I wasn’t giving quite my best. I was failing somehow. My gosh, the pressure we women put on ourselves!
It was after childbirth (which in itself will teach you how little control you really have), and after those early years of feeling stretched like taffy between my idea of a perfect career and my idea of perfect parenting, volleying between the two and feeling less than perfect at each, I remember that very moment when I finally, woefully, threw my hands up in the air. I give up!
And guess what? The world did not end when I stopped over performing.
I realized, finally, that sometimes, Good Enough is well, good enough.
Women especially struggle with perfection, for a variety of reasons – we are socially conditioned with unrealistic goals of being everything to everyone – carrying, feeding, nurturing, and looking good while we do it all.
We strive for perfection when our real goal actually is to be whole.
We want to feel our efforts are meaningful. We want to feel accomplished. We want to feel that what we contribute helps us to grow into a better version of who we are.
So – instead of trying to do it all, or to do it all perfectly, focus on meaningful work that will make you feel accomplished. Whittle it down to 3-5 things. Write those down, and look to do those few things just one percent better. The rest will take care of itself.
This goes for our romantic relationships as well – when we do it all, we don’t give our partner the chance to contribute. It gives the impression that we don’t trust him to do something wonderful on his own. And, it can be taken as overly controlling.
Instead of directing it all, consider what small, meaningful actions would make things better in your relationship today. Appreciation is a big one – a simple acknowledgement of thanks may be all that’s needed.
When I dropped off those handmade masks, still wincing over some of those uneven stitches, I was met with smiles and applause. Where I saw imperfection, my neighbors saw a loving contribution.