I’ve been dealing with personal perfectionism for a long time, probably since I was a baby, given the story my parents have about me learning to walk: I took forever to stop holding furniture, but when I did I almost never fell. I suspect I practiced when no one was looking.
My whole life I’ve wanted to do things right the first time, every time. But I can’t always do that because I’m a naturally imperfect human being. While wanting to give your absolute best is not wrong, expecting perfection from yourself or others is wrong, since you and I are not perfect beings, and we cannot be.
My problem doesn’t lie in expecting perfection from others so much as it lies in expecting it from myself. Coming to grips and terms with my inability to be perfect has been a struggle from time to time. I am cognitively and logically aware that I am not perfect and I cannot be, but that doesn’t stop me from being frustrated about it sometimes. Once upon a time I cried because I got a B on my math homework instead of the usual A I held myself to. My parents weren’t disappointed at all, but I was very upset. At this point my mom had let me know before that being a perfectionist has its drawbacks and you can stress yourself out over things that you just need to let go, and this was one of the times I really noticed it. It wasn’t worth it to cry over a slightly lower grade than I usually got. My mom reminded me that I did my best and I knew how the subject worked, so it was okay. So I got over it, and haven’t cried over anything like that since.
But still I find that when I let go of something, I find a new thing that I need to release. I still have areas of my mind and life that I get upset over if I don’t get them right the first time. I don’t like to mess up or be wrong; it’s very uncomfortable! But even God Himself, the standard of perfection, doesn’t expect more from me than I can give. God knows I’m going to mess up, that I’m naturally imperfect with no way of fixing it myself. So all God asks for is that I do my best, and He’ll take care of the rest. Even though my best is not perfect, I’m giving all I can, and that’s all God wants.