This is an action that does not come easily to my first-born, perfectionist, afraid to fail self. I have a habit of taking even the easiest of things and making them 10 times more complicated than they need to be. Generally, the over-complication of my life starts with hours of mental angst over a task, a conversation, a grocery list – you name it. I’ve perfected the art of throwing myself into a full-on tizzy (see: perfectionist tendencies).

The only problem with all of this detail loving, OCD living? I fail at it. Every. Single. Time. There is absolutely not a chance in you-know-where that I’ll be able to live up to this ridiculous standard I have set for myself. And I’m learning that that’s okay.

After years of setting myself up for failure (at least in my own eyes), I’ve realized a few things:

1. No one is going to think less of me if I don’t pull out all the bells and whistles. In fact, I’ve found just the opposite can happen. If I take time to just BE in the moment – not worrying about how I look, if that party decoration is placed just right, or whether I’m going to say something stupid – these are the times when I make the deepest connections with people and enjoy life the most. People can smell a fake a mile away; they can tell when we’re putting on our “everything is awesome” face. People also respond in the most amazing ways when we are present and genuine. And they’ll laugh right along with me if, heaven forbid, I burn the cookies or get lipstick on my teeth.

2. The times when I am trying my hardest to FORCE success are the times I am the biggest failure. Even if it looks like a success on the outside, forcing your way through life leads to insurmountable guilt and shame if things don’t turn out just the way you planned. I have heaped so much condemnation on myself in the past because my expectations of what I should be/do/think are completely unrealistic. I’m not talking about setting goals or dreaming dreams. I’m talking about expecting things from yourself that are based on lies. Thoughts like, “If I don’t accomplish this by the time I’m 35 then it’s over,” or “I’m afraid that if I tried that then this (bad thing) would happen and everyone would see what a failure I am.” I am (slowly) learning that I have to give myself some grace even when I feel I’ve failed. I’m still a good person with good intentions and if I just let myself relax I can handle life with more ease and peace than if I force myself to be perfect.

3. I cannot and will not be able to control every aspect of a situation. Ever. I am a card-carrying control freak. I swear one of my hobbies is thinking through a situation or task and planning my response to every possible outcome. This is incredibly tiring and (surprise surprise) has never won me any sort of award. In fact, it can actually keep me from doing the important things because I need to be certain everything is going to go off without a hitch. I overthink an outcome until I’m worn out by even the prospect of a potentially good relationship/opportunity/idea. Do you know what good my control-freakishness has done me? It has made me a tired, cranky, not-so-fun-to-be-around mess. It has forced me to focus on tasks rather than the people I love. It has kept me up at night with fear and worry that I’m forgetting something. Here is what I’ve learned, though: tomorrow takes care of itself. It always arrives – right on time – whether I’ve worried about it sufficiently or not. And you know what? So far, I’ve managed to survive every tomorrow I’ve come up against.

So, I’m learning to let go. I’m learning to calm myself. I’m learning that being busy isn’t as important as just being. I’m learning that it’s okay to not get everything on my to-do list accomplished. I’m learning to just focus on what’s important and let life take care of itself. I’m learning that the more I stop struggling and lean into surrender the more I’m capable of actually doing. I’m learning…I’m not there. And that’s okay.


4 comments Write a comment

  1. I could have written this exact post! It’s good to know I’m not the only one who plays different scenarios out in my head. Or works myself up into an absolutely meltdown when things aren’t perfect!! Thank you for encouraging me today!

  2. What beautifully written thoughts! This might sound cliché but as soon as I started reading your post I thought to myself “wow, what she’s writing is something I absolutely needed to “hear”/read today”! I’m not really a perfectionist but your words kind of spoke to me. I over-complicate things too, I see some things as a huge obstacle and struggle to overcome things in my life and move on to the next chapter. I’ve been confused and frustrated and felt helpless.

    I agree that we need to simplify things. I loved your 1st point about making connections to people when we’re really present and in the moment. (I’ve stumbled upon a new term lately, it’s called mindfulness, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it and apparently it’s even good for our overall health, not just mentally, you should Google it)

    I’m really glad to read you are going to try to let go, I think you will feel liberated when you do. I’ve read it’s all on how we respond to situations, what our attitude is in life. Mine definitely needs improvement. But I think at the end of the day we’re all works in progress, aren’t we? Don’t be too hard on yourself. I don’t know you (yet! haha) but you have an extremely interesting blog with huge potential, you have a personal style of your own and a great writing style, too. Thanks for this!


  3. Amazing words! I never thought that there are other people who are going through the same thing as me. Your post has made me realize that i’m not the only one who over complicates life’s situations, and is always being harsh on herself (which just never gives a positive result). It just feels good to see this post because you have explained every bit of what i was always feeling for the previous couple of months.
    I will try my best “to just focus on what’s important and let life take care of itself”


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