I remember the very first time perfectionism and I met. He found me when I was just a tween with stringy brown hair and hot pink braces. We were at school, and he told me that I was okay as I was, but wouldn't I be better with straight A's?

In middle school he taught me that I'd be more lovable if I joined more clubs; and in high school, he convinced me that I should not only join said clubs but I should run for office. Why just participate, when you can be a leader? Perfectionism would ask me. Leaders are better.

By that time, perfectionism had latched on to my appearance, as well. He made me question my round face, and left me wondering if I'd be more beautiful without chubby cheeks. He asked me questions about why I was so short. The popular girls are tall; he reminded me. Why aren’t you tall like them?

He also noticed that I wasn't going on very many dates. My mom told me I was intimidating because I was so beautiful and smart. (Moms are the best aren't they!?) But he told me it was because I wasn't as pretty as those other girls; that boys would never find someone like me attractive.

Perfectionism began to seep into every aspect of my life, like cream into a cup of coffee. By college, it was no longer me + perfectionism, but, instead, a new version of me, one that was obsessed with becoming perfect. 

I walked around campus day after day, pretending that I had it all together. My life was messy, but perfectionism convinced me that I could balance the darkness that was going on inside with a seemingly bright and perfect outside. Don't let anyone see your faults; became our anthem. 

After college, I packed perfectionism up and brought him back to Atlanta with me. Like a broken captor, I did so willingly, sure that I couldn't live without him. 

It was then that I fell for a guy... hard. But one cool September night he sat me down and told me that it was over. My stomach dropped as he said the words "Listen... you're perfect on paper but it's just not going to work out." I didn't understand. I'd tried to be as agreeable, quiet and likable as possible. But I had been perfect! I cried to perfectionism,

On that day, I learned that as hard as I'd tried to be perfect, it didn't earn me more love. It didn't make me better or more whole. It didn't protect me from pain.

I was living like a mirage; simply admired from afar, but never close enough to really touch. But being admired from afar isn't love. Love is about being up close and messy with someone. It's about letting our guards down and admitting when we're not okay. Love is honest.

So today, I bid you farewell perfectionism. My life is sweeter, fuller and more joyful without you. Does it look as perfect? Definitely not. But I've learned that being perfect wasn't really all you said it would be, anyway.



Photography by Garrett Lobaugh
Thank you to Sometimes. Always. Never for the inspiration for this post.