The start of a new year always brings thoughts of change, goals, and resolutions. However, I have found that in the past these New Year’s aspirations led me on a path of anxiety, perfectionism, and ultimately, defeat. A resolution to “be healthier” led to calorie counting, compulsive use of a fitness app, and excessive weight loss. A resolution to “get all A’s” led to endless nights of homework, declining social events to study, and isolating myself to my desk chair and empty bedroom. A resolution to “exercise more” led to daily exercise, a constant need to burn calories, and feelings of guilt for sitting still. I tend to take everything and magnify it through the lens of perfectionism. A goal cannot simply be met. It must be exceeded. But this year, three words kept replaying over and over again in my mind as I settled in, ready to start the New Year: grace, not perfection.
How could I stand to move away from perfectionism? It is practically a part of who I am at my very core. After thinking about it for a long time I realized perfectionism is simply a crutch that I use to fill up the spaces in my life where I feel inadequate, unqualified, or unworthy. But looking back, the times in my life when I have been the most successful, happy, and free are the times where I have shown grace, not perfection.
Perfectionism will always fail you. If you hold yourself to a standard of perfection, you will never be enough. Your own expectations for yourself should build you up, not tear you down. Why would you set goals for yourself that you wouldn’t dare set for anyone you love?
Perfection creates doubt; grace creates contentment. Perfection leaves you empty; grace fills you up. Perfection is unreachable; grace is realistic. Perfection is fleeting; grace is lasting.
This year I challenge each of you to strive for grace, not perfection. Realize that perfection is a myth. Grace is a truth. Set goals for yourself that will allow you to show progress. Set goals for yourself that are attainable and realistic. Set goals for yourself that will bring about positive changes in your life. You are worth more than the lies that perfection will feed you. You are worth more than the unattainable goals you set for yourself. You are worth grace.