Tracey: Perfectionist Problems

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Hello, my name is Tracey and I’m a perfectionist.

Some people think being a perfectionist is enviable. They think my organizational skills are awesome and wish they had a little ounce of that for themselves. Well, being a perfectionist also has its drawbacks! I’m determined, however, to keep plugging away at becoming a “Recovering Perfectionist,” at least in regards to some aspects of my life.  I don’t want to relinquish tidiness -that’s just crazy talk! However, being a self-critical perfectionist has also managed to hold me back, and that needs changing for reals.

My husband always jokes that I won’t try anything new unless I know I’ll be an “expert.”  He would like me to take up golf so that we can spend time together on the back nine (ahem) but he thinks I’d give it up because, as he says, EVERYONE is a horrible golfer at first, and that just wouldn’t do for me.

I remember even as a kid playing a sport that if I wasn’t “the best” one out on the field,  I wouldn’t try out. I could be the third best person out there, which obviously isn’t too shabby, but it wasn’t number one, so I wouldn’t play.  If it meant looking like an idiot, struggling, or not being able to “cut it,”  I’d rather not even attempt to try.

That’s held me back so many times, from so many things that interest me or look fun or challenging.  That little voice inside my head chimes in that I won’t be able to keep up or that I’ll look silly, so I decline.

I really admire people who have a “go get ’em” attitude, and can just laugh at themselves.  I haven’t mastered that skill. I’m always calculating, analyzing, measuring in my self-talk.

Last Friday night, that little voice was trying to dissuade me again.  I had agreed to go out and run trails behind the Nepean Sportsplex with some of the Losing It peeps, and I tried to figure out how to back out about a hundred times.  Why, you ask? Well, I know some of these women are pretty hardcore! I worried I would seriously stink at being able to do what they can all do.  I worried I wouldn’t be able to hold my own. I just plain worried, but then I went! In the thunder, lightning and pouring rain. I went. I had a fantastic time, I didn’t worry about everyone else and their skill set, I just did me.  I even attempted some things I thought FOR SURE I wouldn’t be able to do-like holding myself up on parallel bars and swinging my knees to my chest. I was *just* about to skip my turn, but I pushed myself to do it. You know what? I didn’t find it that hard at all! It was self-doubt and criticism for nought.

The fact is, let’s face it, we all suck at many things. We aren’t going to be experts at everything. Sometimes, we aren’t going to “get” how you’re supposed to get into that crazy Yoga position, or how to jump your bike over that obstacle, or how to hit the golf ball straight to where you want it to go.  We can all try though, and laugh at ourselves while doing it.  I’ve kind of realized that people would rather be around someone laughing and trying than someone anxious and worrying in the corner.

Being a perfectionist and having too much pride to just put myself out there has held me back for way too long. It’s stifled me from attempting things that I’d LOVE to do, and that in turn has limited my life experiences.  No more.

I keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and guess what? It’s bringing me joy and accomplishment and belief in my abilities. I joined Bootycamp when I thought that was a nutty endeavour, I ran through the woods in the rain on a Friday night, I started putting my personal thoughts and feelings onto this very public blog, and now? I’ve just started the Insanity DVD program and am considering signing up for the Army Race 5k. (my first ever ANYTHING run)

The more I believe in myself, the more encouragement I seem to get from others who want to see me succeed. That’s quieted the self-criticism in ways I’ve never experienced previously.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that it isn’t a struggle. Before the Forest Run? My hands were shaking! Each bootcamp class, I spend many, many moments cursing myself for a myriad of reasons.  Each Insanity session I wonder if I’m truly insane for attempting a workout program that even athletes deem difficult.  This is going to be a constant battle for me inside my head.

I owe it to myself to try though, because there is a lot of living out there to do and there are SO SO SO many activities and events I want to do. It would be a shame, at the end of my life, to know that I had the capability but that I was responsible for holding myself back because of a need to always be perceivably “Perfect.”

The old adage goes something like: “You can’t succeed if you don’t try.”  I owe it to myself to try, and try again.

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11 Responses to Tracey: Perfectionist Problems

  1. Samantha R says:

    I signed up for the 5K Army Run for the EXACT reasons in this post. A challange to myself because I know I am a weak jogger (right now) something to keep me motivated throughout the summer!

  2. Jay says:

    LOVE this post! I think a lot of people will relate. I’m not a perfectionist, but still felt the same way about trying new things. I’m not sure what clicked, but something did and now I’m up to trying just about anything and love living THIS life. I’ve put myself out there, met new like minded people and it’s be awesome! And you Tracey – are an awesome person to having in my corner! Kick Insanity’s butt this summer!

  3. Katie Squires says:

    I adore ya :) I love that you got nervous and went and did it anyway! How crazy was that Friday night in the rain!! And you did freaking amazing! Like that knee to jump thing..crazy! I tend to not do things I suck at too…ie. Zumba, swimming, sports with balls :) PS. I think you have wicked strong muscular legs! So excited that you signed up for the army run 5KM :)

  4. Julie says:

    Tears here, because this rings true for me also. Great post Trace, thank you. I admire you for putting yourself out there with your written words and with your many new outdoor fitness adventures. Keep going….

  5. Shona says:

    You are strong and brave, not only for pushing yourself to do things out of your comfort zone, but also for writing such an honest post. :) I’m rooting for you, too!

  6. Lara C W says:

    I think this is a post that SO many people can relate to!! It certainly resonates with me :) I’m such a perfectionist that my friends call me “all or nothing ” Lara. Growing up I was not encouraged to continue trying at things that were hard, I didn’t like, or frustrated me. At the same time I have lots of determination so kind of a bit of a contradiction. ;). I’m glad you were so successful the other day. When we don’t let fear hold us back we put ourselves on the path we were meant to live. Keep up the awesome work. ….have you registered yet for the 5K? Honestly? You’ve got nothing to lose. Everything to gain ….you can do it!!! :D

  7. Pingback: Wordywort – Fifty Shades of Boring | Losing It In Ottawa

  8. wordywort says:

    I enjoy your posts so much. This time, you took the words right out of my mouth, and I opened my post yesterday by linking back to this one. It’s funny how the novelty of doing something knowing it’s kinda going to suck has become fun for me.

  9. Sarah says:

    Love this bost and love the idea of a trail run in the forest. Where do I sign up?

    I recently registered for the 5k Army run. It won’t be my first race, but at each race I set a new goal for myself and have to face the fear of failure. Sometimes I meet the goal, and sometimes I don’t, but I almost always feel great about getting out there and trying! It’s better than choosing to stay home on the couch! I say go for it!

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