I'm a Recovering Perfectionist

"Imperfection is a form of freedom." — Anh Ngo

My name is Saba Ghaffari and I am a recovering perfectionist. The dictionary defines a perfectionist as being someone who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. Living your life in this way is not enhancing, it’s actually suffocating. People that strive for perfection doubt their decisions, overthink unnecessary details, and are extremely critical and judgmental of themselves. Life in itself is inherently flawed, so living your life without any room for error is a surefire way to suck a lot of joy out of living. Then, why do we do it?

The way we’ve grown up, we’ve been conditioned to look at those around us rather than the image in the mirror. Everything is a competition, from the grades we make in school, to the standings that we hold at our jobs, to the money we earn. We remain so focused on how we compare to others that we are limiting our self-growth. You know how they say that when you’re running a race, if you take a split second to look back at your opponent that’ll cost you the race. It’s hard not to compare yourself with others when social media is constantly flooding your feed and notifying you that other people are living wonderful, fantastic lives. But, that’s just the thing. Our social media pages and stories are filled with what we CHOOSE to put out there. That person who travels from one extravagant vacation after the next with picture perfect photos may not disclose that they’re always traveling because they feel like they don’t have a home. That person who appears to have the perfect family and home life doesn’t share that they feel unfulfilled within their career. We ALL have our own share of challenges and issues that we deal with, but many of us don’t share those publicly with the world. So, what we get is this distorted view of everyone’s lives, which in turn makes us feel like we don’t have enough going for us.

I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. I enjoy that the platform keeps us connected to friends when we graduate college, leave a job, or move to a new city. It’s a useful tool in sharing news, updates, and communicating with each other in general. What I detest is that when we share a new photo or post a story, we feel great when we get a lot of likes or views and we feel shitty when we don’t. I hate that I even question posting a photo because of wondering if it won’t go with my overall page, and worrying that my page won’t look pretty enough or interesting enough at first glance. I worked in marketing for a year and about 60% of my job was social media and managing the aesthetics for the Instagram page. It made me miserable. I was always making sure that everything was perfect and visually appealing because the page was a reflection of the brand, and that coupled with having to constantly log on to monitor the pages even on weekends and holidays—I never had a break from social media. I was spending hours on the app or on planning the feed for the page every day. I started having terrible anxiety, feeling suffocated from it all, and I constantly felt like I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. Now that social media isn’t part of my job anymore and I only go on it when I choose to, it’s gotten so much better. But, I developed some terrible habits that I’m trying to kick.

I’m not responsible for upholding the image of a brand anymore. I’m just being me. I no longer need to worry or concern myself with how trendy or pretty my page “needs” to look because it doesn’t “need” to look anything. It just needs to be me. I’m choosing to release this awful, obsessive need for control that I’ve developed because in the end we can’t control everything. The world will keep spinning if no one likes my photo. My heart will keep beating if my Instagram page isn’t perfect. I am flawed because I am human and that is completely okay. Life isn’t supposed to be perfect so I am going to stop trying to make it that way, and just live my life being me.