Mental health

My perfectionism prevents me from getting shit done

I’m always one to overthink and analyze myself and situations around me. This, combined with my perfectionism leads me to not only not achieve perfection, but, rather, sometimes not get anything done at all.

I go could go on for days about how my perfectionism is to blame for many of what I consider to be my shortcomings. But at the end of the day, I do realize that I control my actions.

The thing is that taking action feels like it’s much harder for me than everyone else.

It’s worth noting that I’ve been suffering from anxiety and depression since 2010, which has a major impact on all of the above (perfectionism and anxiety come hand-in-hand — at least for me).

I don’t feel like going in-depth into any of these topics right now, and that’s okay! I almost didn’t write this post at all because I knew I didn’t feel like getting into all of this today. But, alas, that’s a new mission for this blog: To be a place where I can dump what’s in my brain, to whatever extent I feel like — the only rule is that it has to be 100% authentic.

So today, I feel like writing about a thought I just had. My hubby took our son out to see some family friends, and I decided to stay home because I wanted to test out my new Vitamix. I made some homemade almond milk, and then decided to make power balls out of the remaining almond meal.

Even just doing this is a huge feat for me — especially lately, because I’ve been pretty down since my zaidy passed away a couple of weeks ago. When I’m down, all my productivity goes out the window — especially when it comes to homemaking and taking care of myself (notably: cooking, eating healthy, eating at all, and cleaning).

But today I decided to just start doing something. I was inspired by an instagram account I discovered last night (while I was procrastinating going to sleep. That’s another thing to add to the list — I have a really hard time going to sleep at a reasonable hour, and an equally hard time waking up in the morning). So I was laying in bed scrolling through instagram when I discovered an account called @an_organized_life. This young woman is a new mom, and she really has her shit together. And not in a “just for social media” way. No. She’s intentional about it. She doesn’t pretend that her home is always perfect — she even shows that she does have mess in her house like every normal human being. But she also shows all the intentional step-by-step decisions she makes to create her home exactly how she wants — clutter-free, minimal, organized, and spotless.

So from about 1:30am until god-knows when (I never check the time when I get into that kind of procrastination mode because I’d honestly rather not know what time it is, and then I can just delude tell myself I fell asleep at 1:45am when it was probably 3am), I was scrolling through her feed. I was completely inspired. But I was also trying to see if she was for real. And I was trying to see if I could analyze how the heck she became like this.

Thoughts that ran through my head included:

* Her mom was probably like this so this behavior was modelled to her.
* She must have a certain type of personality and that’s just not me, so I need to accept that.
* This isn’t the norm. Most people aren’t this organized and clean. (My thought then went to Teen Mom 2 and how, in a recent episode, Chelsea asked to film in her car because she didn’t want to have to clean her house. Honestly, that small moment made me so happy because it felt so real and relatable).
* Then I started thinking, okay, maybe she had variables set up for her from a young age (nature and/or nurture) that made it easier for her to be this hyper-organized person. But at the same time, she’s putting in the effort every single day. The part that’s easier for her might be the internal motivation part, because it’s possibly ingrained in her, but the actual doing is the same as if I were doing it. It’s still the same amount of work. It’s only her attitude and perception of the situation that is different.
* DISCLAIMER! Obviously these are all assumptions and I have no friggen clue what this women is really like.

So today, as I was making my homemade almond milk, and later my truffles, feeling super proud of myself, I decided I was going to clean up after myself right away. This is something I rarely do — especially not immediately after whipping something up. I’m a procrastinator, and I also have a problem with time management as I easily lose all regard for how much or how little time has passed (this connects to my recent ADHD diagnosis). I also like to put off things I don’t enjoy until the last possible second. With regard to cleaning, that moment is usually the moment my husband says “these have been ‘soaking’ in the sink for a while…” and I proceed to say “oh shit” and frantically clean it up. But this morning, I decided as soon as I had the thought to clean, to just do it. I didn’t allow myself to get distracted. I just cleaned every single thing I used and put them away.

Then I suddenly had an urge to organize the rest of the kitchen and living room. I decided I was going to surprise my hubby and organize the house as best as I could before he came home. I cleared off the kitchen counter, which has been cluttered with appliances since we moved into our house last summer. I also cleared off the kitchen island, which is always the place where random papers, pieces of mail, and art project from the little one ends up. I then went and put all of my kid’s books away in the bin, folded the couch blanket, fluffed the pillows and placed them nicely on the couch (yea, I friggen fluffed those pillows!), straightened out the ottoman, cleared off the kitchen table, and arranged the kitchen chairs so they looked nice and intentionally placed.

Then, before I could think twice, I went to our bedroom and started making the bed. I rarely make the bed. I love the way a made bed changes the entire feeling in a room, but I never do it. I think it has something to do with this strange logic that making the bed is a waste of time and inefficient: what’s the point in doing this if it’s just going to get messed up again? You’ll be in this inefficient process of making and messing the bed ad infinitum. I love efficient processes and I hate doing things that I find useless.

The thing I’ve failed to internalize (which I know to be true) is that stupid things like making the bed are annoying to do for three minutes, and then I have a full day of feeling pride in my home. By comparison, if I don’t make the bed, I spare myself three minutes of annoyance, but then I don’t get that additional boost for the rest of the day. On the contrary, not making the bed every day chips away very slowly at my self-confidence, inducing a not-so-nice inner voice telling me I’m lazy and I can’t even bring myself to do the simplest task for the household. So I’m constantly battling this inner-voice, countering this negative self-talk with positive thoughts, but that’s freaking exhausting. You know what isn’t exhausting? Making the damn bed.

After making the bed, I realize my room is dark (even with the lights on), but it’s such a beautiful sunny day outside, so I open up the curtain. Honestly, this makes the biggest difference. The second I open that window, the whole mood in the room changes. I also opened the door to our en-suite bathroom, which is always also extremely bright, so my bedroom was suddenly flooded with beautiful sunlight.

Then I decided I may as well clear the clutter from my night table. I just had a picture frame, a book, a couple of note pads and some throat lozenges. It took me five seconds to place them in my night table drawer.

I then put away the clothes that I left in a pile on my floor (today there were only two shirts — much less than usual). As I was putting them away in my closet, I suddenly had some pretty deep thoughts:

I’m constantly on a road to self-discovery. Ever since I had my first bout of depression in my early 20s, I’ve been trying to find myself. But in that moment, organizing my house more than I had in a long time, I had a crazy epiphany: Rather than trying to find myself, how about I shift my energy to focus on taking action?

There are parts of me that are simply facts: my upbringing and genetics are things I cannot change. These facts make it either easier or harder for me to do certain things. But in that moment, while cleaning up, I realized that I’ve been putting far too much weight on trying to discover what I should do based on what feels most authentically me. NO!! This is a terrible thought process if I want to achieve anything different than what feels easy. I don’t know how I didn’t come to this epiphany this sooner. My focus should not be on simply discovering who I am, but rather on being who I want to be.

Who do I want to be? I don’t quite have the definitive answer and I don’t think I ever will — it’s something that will evolve my entire entire life, because I know I will evolve as I get older and gain new wisdom about the world and what part I want to play in it. I know that being the person I want to be will involve actions that come easily for me (i.e. self-care in the form of relaxing, or giving advice/listening to others’ problems) or difficult (self-care in the form of allowing myself to be vulnerable by leaning on others when I go through hard times, or pushing myself to do things I hate doing but want to not hate doing, like cleaning).

So my next step is to figure out who I want to be, and just be that person. I tend to overthink, and my recent therapy sessions have taught me that thinking, like anything else, can actually be harmful if there’s too much of it. Of course it’s important to know who I am, but more important than that is accepting who I am. And realizing that this acceptance doesn’t mean I have to act (or not act) in a way that reflects who I am. I get to do what I want! And sometimes what I want is super hard because of who I am.

Who am I? I’m a perfectionist, and I hate cleaning, and I’m a procrastinator, and I have anxiety, and sometimes my depression comes back. I’m working to accept all of these things as facts about who I currently am (hey, this can change as I evolve as a person). But I will not allow these current facts to limit my actions. I will no longer allow myself to use the excuse that I’m not doing something because it’s hard. I’d like to clarify that I’m not suffering from major depression — that I know for sure as I’ve recently had a psychological assessment. I know the situation would be different for other people, or even for me if my physical or mental health were to change. But right now I know that I’m the only one who can make myself into the person I want to be. And the way to achieve that is through action.

Action is hard for me, but I need to suck it up and do it. I know I will fail and I will feel badly about not taking action every time I want to, but I will not let that bring me down. Another goal is that I need to accept failure. This doesn’t mean I expect failure, but rather that I will be kind to myself when I fail. But that’s a topic for another day. A friend of mine recently told me that FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. This has stuck with me and is something I think about frequently, every time I feel disappointed in myself.

Every new challenge will be a fresh slate. Every day will be a new day. I will not get down on myself based on past performance. I will ACT! (I’m writing this out as “I will” because I like speaking in a way that is motivating. I’m trying to motivate myself and it’s working! See, I wanted to write “I think it’s working” but I didn’t!)

Anyway, I think I’ve reached the end of my thought process. I look forward to reading this garbled mess in the future and hopefully I will get inspired 🙂

P.S. I just re-read this a few hours after originally writing it and I’m totally inspired. You go girl!

P.P.S. I just re-read this again on June 16th and I’m totally inspired.

P.P.P.S. I just re-read this again before posting to Sweet Health Nut, and I’m totally inspired again! Woo! I think I need to make this mandatory reading for myself every week lol.

Note: I wrote this back in March 2017 for myself, and I’ve decided to post it on my blog because I think it has an important message that others may be able to relate to. It’s a little more on the personal side, and I like that. Authenticity is super important to me, which means I’m going to need to get used to being more vulnerable and step outside my comfort zone. I’m going to start posting more blogs like this as I find it therapeutic for me, and I think it will be good (for me and for others) to connect with people who can relate.

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