ivory prom dress

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

THE Dress (on a model who looks suspiciously like Rory Gilmore). Image Via Zeleb

some years ago, about a year before prom, I started thinking about prom dresses. I looked around a little bit and saw THE dress. I just knew I was supposed to wear it–I had a gut feeling. Plus, it would look fabulous on me, and every guy I had ever liked in high school would drool over me in it. So I saved the link to that bad gyal, saved the pictures, and began thinking about my grand entrance to prom.

And do you know what I did after that? I decided to keep looking. It was still early, and what if there was something even better out there? It couldn’t hurt. I ended up spending months obsessing over dresses, trying to find the most statement-making piece until finally, a close friend pulled me aside and told me how tacky my dress choices had become. Oops.

In the end, I didn’t get the dress I originally wanted, or even the dress that prompted an intervention. In fact, I didn’t even go to prom at all, partly because of how much I stressed over the thing. This is what perfectionism does to me–it blows things up to epic proportions and gives reasonably ordinary things massive weight, causing an inability to move on with life or make decisions.

*Raises hand* My name is C and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

That being said, I’ve been going through some changes lately. Since I wrote “On Feeling Intimidated by My Own Dreams” I’ve revisited it a few times to motivate myself. I touched on the notion of building the life I want for myself now, even though every aspect of my life (namely, my career) isn’t where I want it to be.

My original plan was to go to school, become 9.76 times more attractive, have a great career that I love & that helped people, become successful at a young age, and then see about the rest of my life. After I was in place financially, physically, and career-wise, I could start seeing about things like friendships, romantic relationships, hobbies, and personal finance.

For the past 5ish years, I’ve largely lived out my life on the premise that I had to have what I deemed as my perfect career and a relatively perfect appearance before anything else worked out. So imagine my surprise when (1) I felt compelled to give up makeup for a year (and a few months later, fancy clothes and pretty hairstyles) and (2) got rejected from professional school (again). Even though I was warned years ago about how unbalanced my life was becoming, it wasn’t until the past year or so that it started to register with me. I’d neglected my faith, my friendships, my family, my community, my hobbies, the dating world, and social life in order to try to achieve my goals. Not that I never paid attention to these things, but I became so absorbed by my career & beauty goals that I’m having to rebuild important relationships I neglected and relearn who I am without a perfect career ahead of me and a pretty face.

Maybe I need to stop trying to control life so much. And maybe I need to stop trying to decorate a house before I build a foundation, so to speak.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about what I need to have the life I want, and how I can start getting those things even though I’m not perfectly in place to make all the moves I want to. I spent some time thinking about the “categories” of my life that I wanted to work on in order for me to have a happy & fulfilling life:

  • Faith
  • Relationships (friends, family & dating)
  • Community & Social Life
  • Personal Finance
  • Career
  • Beauty & Style
  • Health

I think I’ll try writing about how I’m progressing and what I’m learning in each of these categories from time to time. I hope you’ll join me in reading & writing along!

Also, if you’re reading this and hemming and hawing over a prom dress, just remember they’re all beautiful dresses, and you’ll look beautiful in all of them. So pick something, make it work, and have an awesome night!


4 comments on “Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

  1. What a great post! Loved “stop trying to decorate a house before I build a foundation” – but maybe it’s okay to decorate a little bit as you put foundation elements in place. Balance is moving away from black and white thinking – and MOST of us seem to be more like pendulums in our crazy/busy world. TIme and focus are always the bugaboos.

    Good for you that you are beginning to figure this out much younger than I did. I still struggle with balance – but I have learned not to stress over it much. That alone has made a HUGE difference in my life.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    • I think that decorating a bit as I go is a good point. I guess that’s part of balancing! I think you said it well–moving away from black and white thinking is necessary in order to balance. I love that you’ve been able to stress less over finding the right balance. I’ll make note of that. It’s a good reminder that we can control our responses to things in our lives! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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