I’m not sure whether perfectionism is nature or nurture, but born with it or not, it’s been one of my most defining qualities from a very young age.
In my early years, this perfectionism came in the form of utter determination at everything I did and a desire to always be THE best. In high school, it was manifested in my many achievements. Valedictorian status. 1st team all state soccer awards. 1st place at state piano competitions. Passed AP exams. 23 college credits. In college… Division I soccer. Numerous conference awards. Honors College acceptance and scholarships. Straight A’s.
Even my post college years were more of the same. Teaching job straight out of college (in my home town…at a prestigious private school). Successful pro soccer career. A dream wedding. A dream house. 3 adopted fur babies. A beautiful baby girl. And happily ever after.
Wrong. So so wrong. That’s the Abby everyone has seen in front of the curtain for the last 28 years. But the Abby behind the curtain? Let me shed the light on a totally different story.
As a youngster, I was the girl absolutely terrified to disappoint anyone; the girl who acted tough but was so so sensitive deep down.
In high school, I was the girl who struggled intensely with her body image; the girl who didn’t ever know quite where she fit in.
In college, I was the girl who sought out her worth in attention from others; the girl who was too proud to ever admit she was wrong.
As a young adult, I was the girl who didn’t know how to be vulnerable; the girl who pushed people away because it was easier than letting people in.
And now? Now, I’m the girl who’s house is never clean and chores are rarely done; the girl who nags too much, and who is never on time. I’m the girl who argues often and (still) can’t admit she’s wrong; the girl who gets frustrated easily, and never asks for help. I’m the girl who swears too much, and is so afraid of loss that she doesn’t love enough; the girl who misses out on authentic connections while she’s chasing the next thing.
So no friends, I’m certainly not perfect. In fact, my perfectionism is the root of my struggles. I am too prideful. Too self-centered. I allow achievements to stand in the way of relationships, and I miss out on connections with the ones I love.
But my perfectionism may also be the thing that saves me.
Because I want to get better. I want to make every moment count and not look back on lost time. I want to show my daughter what it looks like to balance confidence with compassion, competitiveness with connection. I want to love fiercely, and I want to let go of the things that don’t matter and focus on the things that do.
I want to be authentic even after the curtains rise. And I want to embrace myself for who I truly am.