This isn't one of my relationship post series, but it has everything to do with relationships and a lot to do with myself. I'm being really vulnerable and transparent in sharing this, but it's a journey for me and so it's something I'd like to share.
You see, I have a problem. I have several problems but today I'm gonna share one.
Quoting my sister, "You don't have a lot of flaws, but the few flaws you do have are ones that are difficult to change". I'll be the first to admit this, but I'm not very flawed. In fact, one of my strengths is changing to be better - and that would explain why I am generally a very pleasant person to have around... I make a very lovely daughter, a wonderful sister, a best friend and probably a great girlfriend. Okay, 'how is that a flaw?', you may wonder. Truth is, I sometimes don't know myself. How is wanting to be the best that you can be a flaw? I don't know.
But my flaw is wanting (attempting, desiring, longing) to be perfect.
It started many years ago. I was quite a nasty person - inside and out. When I was in my early teen years, I was rather mean and not very pretty either. However, because of the bullying and realising that others are actually humans with feelings and a heart, I started to change. I became more aware of the feelings of others, not just a little bit, but I actually became caring. I became all these nice things and started to be a nice person inside and out. It was really timely, as puberty hit me, I actually looked better, as my insides became more attractive, so was I on the outside.
That's when I realised that changing for the better is always something I should aim for. It started small where I would develop traits that most people would consider as nice. But it got really addictive that I started finding myself actively intending to change to be what others would consider as perfect. The descriptions of what other guys would describe as a great girl, or a girl describing the ideal best friend, or aunties and uncles describing what a good child should be like - anything and everything I mentally noted and my heart started pursuing that.
Oh, I was also growing in God at the same time. He worked through and within me. And I definitely am a different person today compared to 4 years ago because of Him. A lot of my values, beliefs, the core of who I am, my experiences, journey and growth is all because of Him.
But as I grew and changed with God, the desire to be perfect was still something that was stuck in my heart... and although I've tried my best to not be perfect, I see little traces of this flaw come alive.
3 years ago, when my last relationship ended, my ex-boyfriend told me that I was a perfect girlfriend. And that I deserved someone better, and that he wasn't good enough for me, etc. Funnily enough, I believed him. Not so much the fact that he wasn't good enough or that I deserved someone better, but I actually believed that I was a perfect girlfriend because that was literally what I aimed for. However, he also said it in a way that was negative. That I actually had a problem, that I wanted to be perfect and that came through in how I carried myself. I thought he was ridiculous. Because how is being perfect actually a bad thing? It makes no sense.
A few weeks ago, I went to see my campus speech therapist because I wanted to have correct pronunciation. English is my first language, but because I am a Malaysian that partially grew up in New Zealand, I have a foreign accent (to Malaysians) and actually pronounce some things differently (to New Zealanders). I am also studying to be a primary school teacher, so to me, it's important to be able to read accurately and pronounce words exactly how they're supposed to be pronounced. However, when I met my speech therapist, it felt more as if I was meeting a counsellor. She said there was nothing wrong with my speech, and that I probably wanted to perfect everything because of my cultural background(?). In which I knew it definitely wasn't from my cultural background, because I just want to have correct pronunciation for my sake, not because my culture says we have to ace everything and be perfect.
Then very recently, I've been going through something this year that leads to anxiety. In which my close friends know about, and they concluded that if anything, it's probably my mentality that's affecting me, not my physicality. In other words, one of my best friends actually said that because she knows the kind of person I am, I am a perfectionist and that affects my situation negatively.
Side note, the perfectionist they're all referring to isn't the typical generic type of making sure everything is detailed and right; but it's the desire and mentality I have to be the best that I can be, in their words - a 'perfectionist', someone who wants and expects to be perfect.
Due to my anxiety, I went to see my church counsellor. After evaluating my situation for a while, she mentioned that because everything is going pretty good for me in life (as in every aspect of my life), it's probably not a sudden circumstance or my family background that has influenced my 'perfectionist' mentality. Rather, it has a lot to do with self-esteem and self-acceptance.
I write this because I'm currently dealing with a situation that shows just how right they are. That yes, I have a problem. And my problem is wanting to be perfect.
Don't get me wrong, I still believe that wanting to be the best that I can possibly be is a good aim and it is still something I will constantly work towards, but I see this perfectionism come alive as a demon too.
For example, one very flawed mentality I currently hold is that I need to look (almost) perfect before I get into a relationship. I've been feeling rather miserable today because physically, I feel like I'm not good enough. You know what that sounds like to me? It sounds like someone is taking the place of God in my life.
I've always been a people-pleaser kinda person. Not to the point where I fall into peer pressure and do silly things, nor is it sucking up to people in order for them to like me. You see, it all links to that mentality of wanting to be perfect, especially to people I selectively choose to be on the receiving end.
A very personal example for me, but when I was in a relationship, I did things with my boyfriend then out of the desire to please him. It wasn't his fault, he didn't manipulate me into it and it was purely my choice to act on things from a flawed mentality. In a relationship, there are 3 possible desires: To please your partner, to please yourself or to please God.
I guess if I was honest, I do fear to be in a serious official long-term relationship. I'm afraid of being vulnerable, as open as a person I am. I'm scared to love again, I don't want to lose another person and I'm terrified of being hurt.
I don't expect the person to be perfect, but I expect myself to be. And so before I do get into my next relationship, I hope I no longer hold this flaw.
I don't know what to say, my post has no solution to my problem; it doesn't have an end, because it's just something I'm facing currently.
But I can tell you my next steps! My next steps will be to trust in God, to look to Him for my identity, to guard my heart, to do things His way, to focus on pleasing Him - not anyone else or myself. Until then, I'll keep you posted :)