Dear Perfectionist: You Need to Read This

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, Marriage, Relationships, Single by Debra Fileta

I woke up this morning to a littering of toys scattered all over my living room floor.  I have pots and pans from dinner, still needing to be washed–from two days ago.  We’re almost out of milk, and my toddlers will be waking up shortly to drink up the last drops.  Then I’ll have to decide if its worth taking 30 minutes to bundle them up in the middle of this crazy weather, just to go out and get some more–or if I’d rather just deal with their whining of being at home for the 3rd day straight.

This is a just a snapshot of my real life.  No hipster coffee shops, no high-tech computers for writing, and no smiling baristas for inspiration.  More like diapers, PB&Js, and the same children’s books for the 10th time in a day.

It’s funny, because since becoming an author and a blogger I’ve received a lot of emails from men and women discouraged by their accomplishments in life; struggling to feel content with where they’re at, what they’ve got, or what they’ve done.

From the single young men and women–trying to juggle a social life, finances, and a career, all while figuring out where their life is taking them, who they’re going to be with, and what comes next.  

From the couples of young kids–feeling a sense of  constraint and limitation by the demands of their young children–wishing they had more sleep, more structure, more order, and less mess.  

From the stay-at-home moms–overwhelmed by the demands of life, trying to nurture hearts, feed bodies, and inspire minds–all while trying to stay sane; unable to get a minute alone much less make time for their hobbies and passions.

Life doesn’t always look how we imagine it to.  Just take a look around and you’ll see it’s true.  With just this small glimpse of the people I hear from- and maybe even a look into your own life- you start sensing this repeating theme.

Often, they end the email by asking, “Do you have any advice? How do you do it?”  How do you find the time to blog, write, clean, to cook, to serve, to counsel, and to meet the demands of your children, husband, and clients? How can one balance family life, career, passions, dreams, and marriage?  How can you do everything you want?

The answer (drum roll please)? I can’t.  I don’t. And I certainly never will.  

Throughout this journey, I quickly learned a really hard lesson- I can’t do it all, I can’t have it all, and I don’t have the ability to manage it all.  Life doesn’t work that way.  And if it did–we’d all be overwhelmed and half-dead.  I’ve had to stop expecting so much of myself, because there have been seasons to move forward, seasons to stand still, and seasons to take a step back.  Life has brought with it times of accomplishing, times of dreaming, and times of simply surviving.

And through it, I’ve learned to cut myself some slack, to give in the areas I can- and stop giving in the areas I can’t. I’ve learned to set boundaries, learn priorities, and get really comfortable with saying no.  I had to shift the expectations I had on myself, realizing that I can’t expect to do EVERYTHING and to do everything WELL.  Trying to do so is just asking for failure, not to mention totally impossible in real-life.  These lessons have been hard- but they’ve been exactly what my perfectionist personality needed to hear.

We try to live life all at once, don’t we?  We try to hit the fast forward button–wanting everything here and now- forgetting to realize that every little step of the way is significant, meaningful, and exactly where we need to be.  The truth is that life is like a puzzle– and we only get to live one piece at a time.  There are stages, seasons, and cycles that we have to get through in order to arrive.

So whoever you are, hear this: You are EXACTLY where you need to be.  No matter what stage of life you’re in, what your relationship status, or how much you’ve accomplished to this day; cut yourself some slack and remember that life is a puzzle…and the best part, is learning to enjoy the piece you’ve been given today. God is the one who holds the big picture.  And He can surely be trusted to put it together.  

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! When she’s not doing the above, she’s making PBJ’s, stepping on Cheerios, changing diapers, enjoying her family, and just trying to survive one day at a time.  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter