I recently got a question from a 20-something who feels as if she is losing her sense of direction. I’m working on a response from the 40-something panel but in the meantime it reminded me of one of my favorite guest posts. Reprising here today… from a woman who experienced the same feeling in her twenties …and came out the other side.
For anyone who worries about whether or not they ‘re doing the “right” thing:
I’ve always tried to be perfect. Not in an “I’m so great I’m perfect” way, but in an “If I’m perfect, if I’m exactly what so-and-so wants me to be, then it’ll work out, then I’ll succeed” way. If you know me, you probably didn’t like me at first. I’m sure I seemed uptight, snotty, tightly wound, serious. The truth is, I was probably preoccupied thinking about whether you’d like me or not. And what I could to to make you like me. And how I could be more perfect to be more accepted.
In work, in love, and in life, this has backfired on me.
Every. Single. Time.
Maybe you don’t worry about pleasing everyone, and if that’s the case, I envy you. But if you’re like me, if you exhaust yourself trying to be exactly what you “should” be, I know how you feel.
Whatever your situation is, whoever you’re trying to please or whatever you’re trying to prove, just stop. Because no one else has what you have. Because even when you screw up, or make an ass of yourself, or think you “failed,” you didn’t fail yourself.
It took me twenty-five years to be able to accept that it’s okay to be imperfect, even if it means not fulfilling people’s expectations. But over the past year, all of the good things that have happened have been because I stopped obsessing over trying to be so damn perfect. They’ve happened because I stopped trying for everyone else and started trying for me.
I’m leaving everything I know to pursue a dream. Some of you might think it’s ridiculous. Laughable. But for the first time, I’m okay with that. If it’s a screw up and a disaster, it’s not a disaster I endured to be something I’m not. It’s a disaster I endured to help me become me.
Whatever it is that makes you happy, don’t hide, deny, dismiss or postpone it in trying to make other people satisfied with you. They never will be. But you, on the other hand, you can be, and you will be, if you just give yourself permission to let go. It’s your quirks and “mistakes” that make you who you are and that inspire people who know you. And you do inspire them.
Embrace the imperfect, it’s your most valuable asset.
“Special thanks to 40:20 Vision for providing messages like these to me, before I knew them:) People like you and your contributors have been wonderful resources to look for guidance. I hope my stories can help other women as yours do.” – Elizabeth King
About the Author
Elizabeth went after her dreams and faced her fears…from traveling by herself to unknown lands to performing stand up comedy to quitting an unfulfilling but secure job. Most importantly she stopped stalling her dreams by obsessing over what the right direction was and starting going in a direction.
A business person at heart and idea person by nature, she launched her own consulting service specializing in opportunity analysis and web2.0 strategies. She has been helping companies creatively strategize, monetize web2.0 strategies and integrate them into scalable, modern long-term plans.
And…you can read her story on how getting lost was her first step to finding her way: here