I’ll admit: I am a Type A, competitive, control freak. What I’m not, however, is a perfectionist. Way too often I’ll take the “meh, no, that’s good enough” approach. I’m awful at detail-oriented tasks, and I’m often more anxious to just get something DONE than to make sure it’s one-hundred percent right. But somehow, even if I’ve written off the possibility of perfection, I still have that idea of Better.
Whatever I do, I convince myself that I could have or should have done better. Even if at the time I’m relieved to just have one more thing accomplished and out of the way, later I’ll look back and think of all the ways I could have done it better. It didn’t need to be perfect, but it still wasn’t good enough. I think a lot of us have this issue – we’re our own worst critics.
My latest less-than performance? Last night’s yoga class.
I thought I was finally at the point where I felt confident in my teaching. I thought I was finally getting into the groove and becoming that cool yogi girl teacher. Nope. Last night the nervousness hit me full-force and my mind went blank. Out of the hundreds of yoga poses I know, only about three decided to stick around in my brain, and I scrambled through the class trying to make up sequences on the spot.
What are you doing? We JUST did warrior 2! Do something different, goddamnit!! The entire class, my inner critic was yelling at me, convincing me that this class was sooooo not up to par. Half the students there last night were there for their very first time – surely they’d regret coming and would never be back! And my regular yogis, they must be hating this!
After a jumbly flow of a class, I had everyone lie in savasana, and I was left alone with my thoughts. More and more criticism, until I felt kinda guilty, and even considered apologizing to my students for the bad class.
I resisted that urge and ended class the usual way; hands to heart-centre, a few little words, thanks for coming, namaste. And then, surprisingly, they thanked me! They liked it! (?!?) They said they really needed this today, or this part of their body felt a lot better, or they liked this part of class. One first-timer approached me after class and said they really enjoyed it and would be back!
Take that, inner critic! This is the part of teaching that makes my heart so, so happy.
The takeaway here is one that applies in everything we do, and it’s one we should remind ourselves of sometimes. We’re too hard on ourselves. All those little imperfections that we beat ourselves up about and turn into monumental failures – most of the time no one else even notices them. Nobody last night knew that the flow was nothing like what I’d wanted for class; they weren’t worried about “oh, why didn’t she do this pose instead, that would have been so much better”. They just enjoyed the class for what it was.
Same goes for if you stutter a little during your big work presentation. Or wake up with a “huge, disgusting, mother-of-all-pimples” on your forehead. Or if your homemade dessert doesn’t look straight out of the pages of Good Housekeeping. I guarantee you – it’s not the bad, awful, big deal that you think it is. Most of the time, no one else is even noticing the “flaw” – they’re noticing the good parts of you and whatever you’ve done.
Try and take that outsider’s perspective. Notice the things you did right, instead of picking apart your mistakes. Acknowledge that no, you’re not perfect, and you’re probably never going to be. And that’s okay. You’re not perfect, you’re good enough. And that is enough. You are enough.