I’m a recovering perfectionist. I call it “recovering” because when you have a certain tendency, you have to be mindful of it or it can come back. I used to always be proud of my perfectionism. I thought it was a superpower and the source of my creativity and ability to do everything well. If I wanted to try something new like graphic design, home improvement or photography, I just did it and did it well. But going on my journey has taught me that perfectionism is not a power. It’s the opposite. It’s a weakness. Its source is the fear of being judged and rejected, the feeling that I am an imposter, that I am not good enough and that if I’m not perfect, people will find out the truth about my worthiness…the very deep fear that if I do something wrong, I won’t be worthy of love.

Every year, I design my own Holiday cards. Last year, I intentionally put in a little imperfection, a little bit of unbalanced space, on my card that no one would notice but me. Even though it was minor, the fact that I sent the cards out like that was a big deal to me. This year, I designed my card like I usually do and sent them to the printers. I looked at them and liked them well enough. I usually spend a lot of time on them during the design phase so I could do something special but this year, I wanted to do something simple and gave myself permission to do so. As I started stuffing the envelopes to send them out, I noticed something. “Wishing you a Jojyful Holiday,” the card said. I didn’t know how to react at first and then I started laughing out loud. If this had been before I started my journey, I would have freaked out and worried, likely having them reprinted with the correction or not sending the cards at all.

What will people think of me?
They’ll think I’m careless.
They’ll think I’m not good enough…
They won’t like me.

These are the kind of thoughts that would’ve gone through my head. But I’ve let go of worrying about what other people think and started worrying about me. How do I feel? What do I think of myself? How do I treat myself? I’ve learned to embrace the unknown that comes with imperfection. I’m learning to let go of expectations. I know I am worthy. I know I am enough. So that silly typo on the holiday cards? No big deal. In fact, I heard from friends who received it that they either didn’t notice or they laughed out loud too when they saw it. It brought them cheer. Isn’t that the true purpose of a holiday card?

At the end of March, I opened my portrait studio with no business plan, no waiting list of clients, and no giant pot of money to help float the lease in case I failed. While I didn’t have these things, I had trust in myself, a commitment to make it work and a willingness to lean into my fears. It’s been scary, exhilarating, exhausting and rewarding all at once and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Opening this studio, letting go of expectations, trusting in my worthiness and value, and stepping into that dark unknown has opened up possibilities I couldn’t have seen coming. When you hold tightly to expectations and plan everything to its most minute detail like my former perfectionist self used to, you limit yourself. You don’t see the opportunities that present themselves to you, you dismiss ideas that take you in a different direction and you pre-define your “success.”

As 2019 is upon us, I am still both excited and scared to see what happens next. I don’t think I’m a perfectionist anymore and I don’t think it will come back. I’ve lived life both ways and could never go back. You can think what you want of me because I know what I think of me. I am a beautiful soul who is capable, strong, trustworthy and I am enough. And it is this belief in myself that enables me to see that in you too. You are enough and I hope you spend 2019 embracing the unknown, leaning into your fears and seeing what you are truly capable of. Happy New Year. May 2019 help you see yourself as the amazing woman you truly are.

Personal journal writings are for the newsletter and typically not shared on the blog. To read these, subscribe to the “I Matter” newsletter below.