Learning how to stop being such a perfectionist

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog post and that is mostly because of being so busy on my first community education placement. I’m about half way through it now and honestly there has been so many times I didn’t think I was going to ever make it to second year. Never mind be managing this placement so well! It’s been challenging though, for various reasons and different challenges than the ones I was expecting. 

One thing I thought I would definitely be struggling with was my physical health and energy levels. That was one of the main reasons I didn’t know if I would manage it at all, but my physical health has massively improved recently. I’m not sure why. I think it’s been a mix of seeing the osteopath, coming off my medication (which I’m obviously not advocating for) and starting iron tablets. Whatever it is, something is helping and I am so relieved about that. 

However, something I’ve had to come to terms with is that I don’t think I’m necessarily very ‘good’ at this placement. I don’t think I’m bad at it, but community regeneration work and working with a stay and play group as one of my areas of work, has not been something that has come naturally to me. There are lots of things I enjoy about it, and I am learning so much. But so far I don’t think it’s an area where I thrive. For some reason this has been difficult for me to deal with but  it’s helped me learn more about myself. 

Missing nearly all of my secondary school education, and not being able to get into work until I was 25 has meant I’ve felt like I’m always needing to prove myself in some way. In work situations and especially in education, I’ve never felt like I’m supposed to be there. I haven’t felt like I belong. This has meant I’ve had to put so much more work in to make me feel as if I’m good enough. I’ve felt like I have to excel at something just to feel as good as everyone else. Or that I’ve had to put all of myself into something to feel like I deserve to be there. I’ve become a perfectionist, not because I feel like I am or can be good at everything…but because I feel like I HAVE to be good at it in order not to feel like a failure. 

I’m starting to realise that this is not how I need or want to live my life. I don’t want to put so much of myself into something that I’m losing out on other things because of that. I don’t want to feel like I have to be perfect in order to feel like I’m worth anything at all. I can’t keep putting those expectations on myself because I’m only setting myself up to fail. No-one can be good at everything. We don’t need to be either. In learning to be kind to myself I’m realising that involves being kind to myself even when recognising all my flaws and weaknesses. It doesn’t mean only praising myself when I’m doing well and beating myself up for the things I’m not so good at. 

Going forward with my placement, course and life in general, I’m going to try and just believe I’m good enough even with all my flaws and weaknesses. There are things I can improve on and some things that I might just never be good at. And that’s okay. Not being perfect at something doesn’t mean I’m bad at it. Or even that it’s not good enough. It just means I’m flawed and human, just like everybody else. 

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