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Lately I’ve been thinking about my perfectionism that always causes me to chase satisfaction through achievement, and how this state of chasing isn’t really a positive one.
Being a ‘perfectionist’ is always something I’ve always prided myself on. I’ve been proud of my high standards and the drive it takes to meet them. In psychology, however, perfectionism isn’t considered a good thing. It is the psychological trait of a person who doesn’t feel good enough.
Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in his book ‘The Four Agreements’ that we each have our own idea of perfection for ourselves and set goals to try and reach it. He says that we use self love as a motivator by granting it to ourselves only once we achieve these goals, and use self hate as a punishment for when we don’t. This causes us to be unable to accept ourselves unless we reach our own idea of perfection, and hate ourselves when we can’t.
Being ambitious is a good thing, but conditional self love is not. I’ve realised that I live in a perpetual state of chasing, and no matter what I do, it is never enough. In psychology perfectionism is called ‘unrelenting standards’ schema.The standards I set are so high they are basically impossible, and so I live in this constant state of self rejection.
What this really stems back to is a search for love. I strive to be enough so I am worthy of love. One of Ruiz’s agreements is ‘Always Do Your Best.’ The solution is to love and accept yourself how you are, so you no longer need to be or do anything to be worthy of your own love.
These standards are part of the reason I feel defeated all the time. It has been a major contributor to my depression. I put my happiness in a far away place, like the place I would go if I won the lottery, and I spend my life trying to get there. I’m always chasing, and think my life will start only once I’ve reached that goal. That goal can be a certain body weight, a certain number in my bank account or even the attainment of a certain person. Until I obtain these things I feel incomplete and unfulfilled.
That doesn’t mean I have to give up my ambitions. It just means my self worth no longer has to be tied into the mix. One of the biggest realisations I’ve had this year is that that bright place I am chasing doesn’t exist. I will never reach it. The problem is not my abilities. The problem is my mindset. I need to find a way to be content where I am with what I have, and I have to learn to build around that.
This means having to redefine my idea of success. I have changed my priorities this year, putting my mental and physical health at the top.This has meant letting go of the direction I was chasing in life and all that goes with it. What it really means is going inside and figuring out why I feel I am unworthy of love, and learning to give it to myself.
The funny thing is, while this has meant letting go of success, I actually believe this is the way to get there. Everytime I let go of how I think it should look, I see how it does. I’m able to move wit the directions life is trying to take me instead of fighting it. I can move forward. Alex Banayan wrote in his book ‘The Third Door’ that something he learnt from interviewing some of the most successful people in the world was not to get attached to succeeding or to failing, but to learning.
Looking back at my life and my achievements, I’m seeing how far I’ve really come. While I’ve been disappointed in myself that MEW Clothing hasn’t blown up overnight, I’m really appreciating for the first time how much I’ve learnt. I’ve started from the absolute bottom, never having studied fashion, marketing, accounting, or even business management in high school. I’ve had to teach myself everything I know, through books, people, and trial and error. I’ve had little to no guidance because I don’t know anyone doing what I’m doing, and I’ve made great progress considering.
MEW has often made me feel sad because I haven’t met the impossible standards I set for myself, but I’m starting to see how I am succeeding. I’m realising that MEW is a representation of many of my good qualities. MEW represents big ideas and trying your best to get there. It represents never taking no for an answer, never giving up. It represents my adaptiveness, my creativity, my resourcefulness, my determination, my persistence. It represents believing in yourself, choosing yourself, and following your heart. It represents choosing instability, walking into the unsafe and the unknown because you have enough faith to do so.
MEW Clothing is about trying your best, and your best being enough. When I wrote my list of things that bring me up and what brings me down, making jackets used to bring me down because I used to pick apart every single imperfection - imperfections no one else could see but me. I would reduce my prices too low, accepting scraps of money that didn’t reflect the hours and love I put into them. I’m realising the imperfections are the best part. While my standards are high, nothing handmade will ever be as perfect as something store bought, and this is the best part. They are handmade with love. They represent me having the audacity to try my best, and believing my best is enough, because I just can’t let up the dream. This is what makes MEW MEW, and the people who believe in me, believe in my vision, are the ones who think my clothes are worth it. They support my vision and everything MEW represents. MEW represents going for it. It represents big ideas and trying your best to achieve them, despite all the voices telling you why you can’t. This is what you are buying when you buy MEW.
Please forward this email to someone who might benefit from it, half for them and half for me. Your best is perfect, mew xoxo