Embracing your IMPERFECT side

What in the world does the Honest IMPERFECTionist mean? Why did I choose that as my blog name? Why does spell check keep changing imperfectionist back to perfectionist? Why did I improperly capitalize a bunch of letters? Why would anyone want to embrace their imperfections?

It took me a long time to come up with the appropriate name for my journey. My tribe [I talk all about what this means next blog post!] and I brainstormed hard about my values, my purpose, my identity and my ideas. I kept coming back to the terms chaos, honesty, journey, embrace and imperfection. I realized I needed to build on those “core values” to come up with the “perfect” name. And thus, the honest IMPERFECTionist was born. In order to fully explain why I chose this name however, I think its important to break it down into pieces. So, lets start with Honest.

Honesty itself is a very simple concept. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines honest as “good and truthful.” That seems simple enough. But the act of being honest is a bit more difficult. Sometimes it’s easier to lie and more fun to be bad. Sometimes being truthful can hurt someone’s feelings. But the phrase “honesty is the best policy” is exactly what I’m going for here! I promise to be honest. I promise to write each entry from the heart. I promise to be truthful about my feelings and not sugar coat what’s going on. I may not always say something in the nicest way and you may not agree with what I say, but I promise it will be good and truthful.

Now to the made up word, “imperfectionist.” Urban dictionary (I am ashamed and can not believe I’m using this as a literary source [insert face palm emoji]) states that imperfectionist is defined as “being good at being imperfect.” What is imperfection then? Obviously its the opposite of perfection. So lets start with that. Merriam-Webster (finally a real source) defines perfectionism as ‘a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable; especially the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness.”

Talk about a mouthful. Let me break this down into layman’s terms for you. Being a perfectionist means that anything less than the absolute best is wrong. It means you have failed. It makes you feel like everything you do means nothing unless its perfect. Harsh, I know. But it’s the truth.

Before I go in-depth about being imperfect, I feel the need to share my personal story of perfection. Many of you who know me well understand my perfectionist tendencies.  If you don’t, you’ll understand quickly that I strive for perfection daily and it usually gets me into trouble. (HELLO CARLY, YOU HAVE A CHARACTER FLAW!) The scary part is that I’m not sure where my need for perfection came from. My parents never pushed me to be perfect as a kid. It was always “did you try your best?” NOT “do it again until its perfect.”  So why is it that so many of us aim for perfection?

I don’t think it’s a problem to aim higher, to strive for better, and to be the best at what you do. In fact, those are still my personal goals. Those goals helped me to achieve great success at a multitude of things, including playing Division I soccer, having a professional career, and many personal achievements as well.  I think as I have gotten older (and I’d like to think wiser) I’ve realized that perfection and success are not one in the same. I believe that it is possible to achieve success without being perfect. But most perfectionists can not define success without achieving perfection.

I found this awesome article “9 signs you may be a perfectionist” by Elizabeth Lomabardo Ph.D. that really made me reflect on my own perfectionist tendencies. Your personal definition of perfection may be completely different from mine. Understanding what perfect means to you will help you learn to embrace your imperfections. Follow along with these 9 signs and my personal interpretation of them. Do some self-reflection and think about if these relate to you.

  1. You think in all or nothing terms – I would define this simply as being inflexible. You only see things in black and white, there are no gray areas. I think that people with analytic brains tend to do this more than people with more creatively driven brains. As I have gotten older, I hope I have trained myself to be more flexible. After all, change is the only constant in life. And as Darwin (Charles, not my Dog) has taught us, Adapt or become extinct.
  2. You think, and then act in extremes – When I’m in a particularly bad mood I tend to fall into this trap. For example:  “I’m already fat from all the meds I’m on, so give me all the cookies.” I totally fall off track with eating healthy and to be honest, I don’t even have that much of a sweet tooth. But when you realize that perfection is unattainable, it is easy to just go to the extreme and fall of the wagon.
  3. You can’t trust others to do a task correctly & you struggle with delegation – THIS IS ME. I admit it. My family has referred to me as the “dishwasher nazi” at times. I’m semi proud of the fact that only I can correctly load my dishwasher. I guarantee I can fit more dishes than anyone else in there. But guess what, as long as the dishes are getting done and I’m not the one washing them, I need to be okay with it. This is a struggle for me. I’ve gotten better over time with delegating but there are just some tasks that I must handle myself!
  4. You have demanding standards for yourself and others – I expect everyone to put in 100% of their effort all the time because that is the expectation I have set for myself. Anything less than 100% isn’t acceptable. BUT, this is totally unrealistic. I have to remind myself that I am different from other people. I can’t expect them to do exactly as I do. Plus, their 100% and mine may just be different. My Dad, Tom, is constantly reminding me to lower my expectations of others. This may sound kind of bad, but I think it’s so important. Just because I was generous with my time and effort, doesn’t mean another can be. They could be struggling or honestly just incapable of being empathetic. It doesn’t make them any less of a person. Lowering your standard doesn’t mean changing how you act, just what you EXPECT other people to be able to do
  5. You have trouble completing projects because there is always a way to improve on what you have done – This is my life as a crafter. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked for HOURS on a painted glass that should have only taken me 30 minutes. I get close to finishing it and I realize I don’t like the orientation on the glass, or how the letter “o” isn’t perfectly even. I started to remind myself that people are buying a hand painted glass. If they wanted perfection, they would buy a screen painted glass of Amazon. The benefits of hand-made gifts are that they are entirely unique and personal. Having a small flaw here and there isn’t a terrible thing! Plus, I guarantee I’m the only one that sees these “flaws.” I would never send out a glass that I didn’t think was made well.
  6. You use the word “should” a lot – UGH. GUILTY. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m kid of bossy. I catch myself doing this frequently and its honestly something I am working hard to fix. Example: My wonderful husband (who admittedly drives me insane sometimes) was cooking a meal for us recently. I watched him use a pan that was too small, so I told him that he SHOULD use the other pan. He rolled his eyes. Then I told him that he SHOULD use a certain knife to cut the veggies. HOW FREAKING ANNOYING AM I?! Why can’t I just be present and grateful that Chris is cooking for me after a long day of work? It’s definitely something I have acknowledged and am working on.
  7. Your self-confidence depends on what you accomplish and how others react to you – Anyone would be crazy to say that they don’t feel a burst of pride and confidence when someone tells you that you’ve done a great job. I feel that pride when I get feedback from coaching or good reviews on my Etsy page. But I’m going to give major Kudos to good ole Barb and Tom for this one. They cultivated my self-confidence at a young age and set the foundation for me to feel good about ME. I truly don’t feel as if I need positive reinforcement in order to feel good about ME. But its taken me a lot of therapy (heck yes I go to Therapy!) and self-care to get to this point. I still have the days where I am down on my appearance, drive, or work ethic, I know how to work my way back to confident Carly. I know many people do need that validation and encouragement both in their professional and personal lives. Don’t feel ashamed by that. Instead, work on ways to make you feel good about you. [see upcoming post about using a gratitude journal]
  8. You tend to fixate on things that you have messed up – If any of my soccer girls are reading this, THIS ONE IS FOR YOU! Focus on the positives, realize and accept the negatives and move forward. Without making mistakes, we can’t learn. Athletes are notorious for this one. I remember a teammate who would score 3 goals, work insanely hard during a game and would come off the field miserable. No one could understand why because she seemed to have the “perfect” game. But in her mind, she focused on all the passes she didn’t connect, all the traps that bounced out of reach, and that one goal she SHOULD have had but missed. HELLO LADY, YOU SCORED 3 GOALS AND YOUR WORK ETHIC INSPIRED OTHERS TO WORK HARDER. Don’t forget about your mistakes, but accept them, learn from them, and move past them. Barb always says “Accentuate the positives and minimize the negatives.”
  9. You procrastinate or avoid situations in which you think you may not excel–  Who wants to do something they are bad at? Answer: No one. It sucks to be the “newbie” in any situation. But if you embrace the chance to do something new, you can realize it may be fun! For example: We tried curling this past winter with a group of my Brother and Sister-in-laws friends. It was a riot, and SO MUCH FUN. And guess what, I WAS TERRIBLE at it. I figured being an athlete I would be able to figure it out quickly. Let me tell you, after falling on my face 3 times on the ice, I can tell you that those Olympic curlers are bad-@$$. Even though I was bad, I got a little better by the end of the lesson and I had a great time with friends. In fact, I think I even want to try it again next winter. Moral of the story is, you’ll never know until you try. And if you try, and suck at it, try something else. Everyone is good at something!

So now you know my story about being a perfectionist and some signs to watch for in your own life. I hope you were able to reflect a bit and relate to them personally. If you couldn’t, congratulations you have reached perfection status and should move on to my next post. If you’re still here, congrats on being honest and realizing that nobody is perfect!

If nobody is perfect, then everyone is flawed. If everyone is flawed, then everyone is IMPERFECT. Just like I told you before, my mama Barb always reminds me to accentuate the positives in life. You may think that your imperfections aren’t positives, but I am here to tell you that they are. Your imperfections make you unique. Your imperfections are YOURS alone. Own them. Be PROUD of them. Recognize how they make you FEEL. WORK on them and in turn, Work on YOU! Self care is so important and most of us ignore it. One of my neighbors posted something the other day that really hit home with me. Why is it that we can go into target and drop $100 (Most likely on Magnolia decor because who doesn’t LOVE Chip & Joanna) on miscellaneous crap, but we can’t spend the time or money on taking care of ourselves? I personally think that most of the time it’s because we ignore our flaws and imperfections. We cover them up with make-up, hide our insecurities with humor,  and cover our mom pouches or extra happy pounds with particular types of clothing. Why don’t we allow ourselves to be imperfect? Why can’t we embrace the reasons for those imperfections? Why can’t we change our perspective and see positives in those imperfections?

I’m a 30-year-old mama who is covered in itchy red blotches most of the time currently. I’m fair-skinned and covered in freckles in the summer time. I have acne, and stretch marks and really big thighs. I’m bossy, I like things done a certain way and I hate being alone. Sometimes I over-help people and I really need to work on my boundaries. I’m passionate and fiery and will stick up for anyone else, but myself. I talk a big game but I’m a really sensitive, empathetic person. I’m Carly, and these are some of my imperfections. I’m proud of them. My imperfections make me unique, they make me stronger, they have taught me so much about myself. Instead of running from them, I’m learning to EMBRACE them. I’m learning to cope, and I’m finding reason behind them. I’m shifting my perspective and accentuating the positive.

Here’s my positive take on my imperfections. My hives have given me purpose, they have taught me to advocate for myself and my health. My fair skin and freckles are part of my identity. I love my freckles and hate covering them up with makeup. They tell the world a story about how much I love to be in the sun and my Irish heritage. My acne is annoying but it is also manageable. My stretch marks are proud scars of a lifetime of weightlifting and motherhood. I’ve earned them! My thighs are huge, and strong, and powerful. I can carry heavy things and run 10 miles. I’ve earned those thighs. I’m bossy and like things a certain way, BUT understand that my way isn’t always best. I’m learning to let others help and learning that being the boss has its down falls and perks. Being alone is lonely but also the best time to focus on Carly. I am learning to enjoy my alone time and to use that time for self-care. I’m learning to not over-help. People need to find their own way and I need to let them. I’m proud of my passion for life, sports teams, etc. I’m fiery and spunky and it’s ok if someone else doesn’t love that part of me. I love that part of me. I’m sensitive and empathetic and I’m proud of that too. I cry a lot, I wear my heart of my sleeve and I truly care about others feelings. It’s not always easy, but its worth it.

I encourage you to do this activity to help shift your own perspective. Write down your imperfections. When you’re finished you will see how much you critique and put yourself down. Go back and look at those statements and give yourself some love. Put a positive spin on your imperfections. Realize that although you may have things you want to work on about yourself, you’ve already taken a major step towards loving yourself and believing in yourself. This is how you embrace your imperfections!

So to wrap this all up, I’ll go back to answering my initial questions.

What in the world does the Honest IMPERFECTionist mean? Being an Honest IMPERFECTionist simply means, that it’s ok to feel however you feel, be whoever you are and accept your journey through life.

Why did I choose that as my blog name? I chose the name The Honest IMPERFECTionist because its my mantra, and it’s where I currently am and need to be in life. It’s not all sunshine and roses, its real issues, real feelings, and it’s OK!

Why does spell check keep changing imperfectionist back to perfectionist? Spell check is stupid and obviously a perfectionist. [see what I did there?]

Why did I improperly capitalize a bunch of letters? I capitalize IMPERFECT because I want to highlight the IMPERFECTions and be proud of them.

Why would anyone want to embrace their imperfections?   I think the better question is why wouldn’t we? It allows us to be kinder to ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean lowering our standards. It means that although we are not perfect, we can still strive for greatness and success. And most importantly, if we don’t immediately find that greatness or success, we can choose instead to embrace our imperfections and practice self-care and self-love.

That is exactly what I want this space to do for people. Encourage self-care and self-love. I want this to be a place where you can relate to others feelings, both good and bad. I want to celebrate our differences, accentuate the positives, but also be realistic and true. I want you to feel like you’re not alone in what you’re going through. So to end this, I’ll humor my husband and quote his favorite animated flick Toy Story and Randy Newman, “You’ve got a friend in me!” And I’ll open you and your imperfections with open arms.

Thanks as always for being on this journey with me!


Carly xoxo

***Tune in Friday to Read all about “My Tribe” and what the heck that means.***

2 thoughts on “Embracing your IMPERFECT side

  1. Finally had a chance to read this! Nice writing and sharing, Carly! SO honest and all of us struggle with many of these things- NEVER think you are alone! One suggestion I learned from writing a blog for work. It may be a bit long- try less than 500 words to keep people reading- if its too long, they will click out!


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