By Ashley Ryan
I spent the majority of my life pretending to be someone I wasn’t.
Putting on a happy face and looking good in order to disguise what was going on inside.
I thought with nice clothes or a brighter smile, people wouldn’t notice my inherent flaws or the mistakes I made.
This mask of perfection lasted many years and now that I’m a mother, I especially notice all the ways I try and keep up appearances…
Setting a good example for my child.
Keeping it all together for my significant other.
Giving, giving, giving so others will see me in a good light.
The list goes on.
At work, I get emails from wonderful, incredible, women and mothers who feel isolated, anxious and depressed.
They feel under-appreciated and live with an invisible wall of pressure to be the perfect woman, mother and wife.
They experience negative emotions that stem from the strong ideals of how they should be.
Living with these feelings for many years; keeping it all together for way too long, and comparing myself to what I thought others wanted, my perfection came at a cost. It cost me my parenting and my marriage. This was a hard lesson to learn, and my struggle with perfection taught me that…
Perfection is an illusion.
It’s the golden handcuffs that keep us locked in an invisible cell.
The expectations, ideals and fantasies that we hold of ourselves, constantly comparing our bodies, hearts and minds to others, striving to fit in, looking for others to say we’re OK so we can feel OK.
Perfection doesn’t exist, it’s created in our minds.
Perfection comes at a cost.
Trying to be someone were not is exhausting. When we put energy into being what we’re not, we often lose precious people and moments along the way. Moments we can never get back — and sometimes relationships that can’t be mended.
When we try to hold it all together we give our power away.
By pretending that we can do it all; by trying to be everything for everyone, we give our power away. When we give our power away we lose ourselves and the nature of who we are and what we stand for.
Some valuable lessons I learned through trying to be perfect…
Tell the truth.
When we tell the truth about something we set ourselves free from the burden of the un-truth. Being honest is enough to release ourselves from the bondage of perfection.
If we’re vulnerable and show our true feelings and needs we set the tone for others to do the same. It’s amazing what opens up when we share ourselves with others.
Share with others.
By sharing with others, we open up the space for them to share with us. The more we share ourselves with friends and strangers, the more we see how alike we all are. Sharing creates a space of love and closeness and is a breeding ground for new relationships and opportunities.
Mistakes are opportunities.
I used to hide my mistakes and avoid them at all costs, but perfection taught me to embrace the opportunity in my mistakes and not to give up at the smallest sign of challenge.
I spent many years living in the shadow of the perfect woman; now have the freedom to live my life as I truly am, not as others want me to be.