The Pressure to Be Perfect

When I wrote The Story Of An Imperfect Woman, I ran it by my hubby to get his blessing since it referred, not only to my quirks and imperfections, but to his. He gave me his blessing, but then he said, “I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to tell everyone all of these things.” I asked him why, and he said, “But what about your reputation?”

I had to laugh.

I mean this guy knows me and loves me, in spite of all these imperfections that are a big part of who I am. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. And finally, I don’t either.

I remember, back in my thirties, when I felt like I had to:

  • Never make mistakes at my job (after all, someone could die)
  • Be the perfect wife (or my husband might divorce me)
  • Keep a tidy house (or the neighbors would think I was a slob)
  • Look perfect (after all, those women’s magazines tell me it’s so important)
  • Be perfect in bed (or he might trade me in for a younger model)
  • Behave perfectly (or others might not respect me)
  • Be the perfect mother (or I might screw up my daughter)

Of course, even if any one of these had been possible, these things were mutually exclusive. By definition, to even try to be perfect at one thing, I’d have to be imperfect at another. It’s enough to make even the most awesome woman bonkers!

I now consider myself a recovering perfectionist, and I no longer expect myself to be perfect. And yet, when my husband said, “But what about your reputation?” I felt the old familiar twinge. Oh yeah. What about my reputation? What will people think?

Hmmmm . . .

I thought about it, checked in with my Inner Pilot Light, listened to the still small voice within me, and started to laugh. I mean WHO CARES about my reputation? Who gives a flip what people think? So what if patients decide not to come to me as their doctor because I refuse to be some plastic version of myself who never makes mistakes? Why would I want those people as patients to begin with?

Who gives a flying freak if some society woman doesn’t let me in her country club? Who cares if the neighbors think I’m a slob or the people from my church discover that I took a sex workshop or that I’m twice divorced or that I have a bit of a pooch around my middle these days?

I mean seriously? What am I trying to prove?

I know my husband means well. He wants me to be successful in business, pleasure, friendships, and life, and he supports me 1000%. But if someone like him can still question—after all I’ve done to put my truth out there on the internet—whether I’m crossing the line by revealing how imperfect I am, it only shows me how much further I have to go to help encourage you to learn to love yourself exactly as you are so you can free yourself from the burden of trying to be perfect.

Imperfection as a Screening Tool

The way I see it, sharing my imperfections with you is kind of the perfect screening tool. In other words, I’m not trying to please everyone. I only care about pleasing my people—and if you read this post and decide you don’t like me anymore, then you’re not part of my tribe. Good for both of us to know, right?

I met one girl with bright pink hair and hairy armpits and she said she used her hair as a screening tool. If people didn’t love her because she had pink hair and hairy armpits, they weren’t her people.

The more you pretend to be perfect, the harder it is to find your tribe. Why not make it easy for everyone? Why not let your freak flag fly and see what happens?

The Gift in Imperfection

I’ve learned an incredible lesson since I started Owning Pink over two years ago. It turns out that my imperfections are not only a good screening tool, they’re actually the keys to the kingdom. In my vulnerability, authenticity, fearlessness, and sometimes uncomfortable level of disclosure, lies the secret sauce. If I was writing this blog and showing you some vanilla version of myself, I suspect most of you wouldn’t be here. If I was telling you what I thought you wanted to hear instead of what was actually true, I doubt I’d have five million readers and over 100,000 Twitter followers.

People care what I have to say because when you’re brave enough to expose your imperfections, you give them courage to do the same. And when we can build community based on truth and authenticity—rather than masks, false perfection, and being phony—we heal, connect, and thrive.

Are you brave enough to share your imperfections?

Tell us one imperfect thing about you in the comments here. (I promise, we’ll all love you anyway!)

Perfectly imperfect,

Lissa Rankin, MD

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  • Rita

    Let me be the first. I have scars galore- on my skin from surgery, in my heart from years of consequence of trying to do it all, on my own. Good riddance to my 30’s. I feel relief moving into my 40’s and I-don’t-give-a-sh*t-if-people-judge-me contentment. Thank you, Lisa.

  • Jen

    Trying to do everything correctly was the “heaviest” job of my life. After turning 50 and with some loving guidance… I def love..” letting my freak fly!”.. There are days when I find myself “charade-ing” again.. but those moments are few and every day I feel grateful for the awakening and freedom. Thank you deeply for this article…

  • Grace

    For years I would go into a cleaning frenzy everytime guests would come over. This would create tons of arguments and anxiety with the kids and my husband as I would frantically run around making sure the house was spotless and uncluttered and I’d want them to help. Now, I’ve learned that it’s ok if the house is not perfectly tidy. I do the basics like clean the bathrooms, tidy up the living room and kitchen and get the family to go around and pick up their things….and if they want to throw it all behind closed bedroom doors, I don’t care. Letting things go has also taken the pressure off of myself to be the perfect mom. I’m now proud that we are an active family and with that comes the clutter of lots of activities. I’d rather know that we are physically active and therefore healthy than have a house that looks more like a hotel room.

  • Lisa

    I just wanted to please everyone around so they will like me , even people that didn’t care about. I just needed their approval. What was that about? So, I need to like myself, love myself first so I can then love others. Respect who I am.

  • LSA

    I let my house fall APART….and then i get extremely depressed at the prospect of having to clean it. I hate cleaning. I push myself to clean it every day before my husband gets home because “it means a lot to him” when i clean the house. So there’s the pressure from that…and the misery i feel from having that pressure on me all the time makes me feel irritable and i get impatient with my kids. My life is not my own. I have 3 kids ages 5, 3, and 2. I don’t know how it’s possible to have a house that looks like a tornado came ripping through…every….single….DAY. I’m exhausted.