This is a break-up story.
One of my biggest personal struggles is against perfectionism, or perhaps more accurately, comparison to my Ideal self. Ideal Jess is wonderful on paper, so I do understand why I have held onto her for so long. She is gorgeous, very funny, never says the wrong thing, is highly intelligent and articulate but is also still very relatable. Ideal Jess makes everyone else feel at ease as she is at ease within herself. She can also sing, paint and write effortlessly, in fact she is naturally talented at everything. You name it and Ideal Jess can do it, be it, face it and overcome it.
I desperately want to be her at times. Other times I know I wouldn’t like her at all, she would intimidate the hell out of me.
I have this perfect version of who I should my head and I often punish myself for not being her.
I was holding myself hostage to the impossible. I was trying to be someone I was not—but even worse, someone I could never be.
– J. S. Park
I was recently given the opportunity to review a book before its release and the timing couldn’t have been better. Have you ever had those? It was the right book, with the right words, at the right time. In his book The Voices We Carry, author J.S. Park unpacks eight types of voices that we hear in our heads and one of them was self-condemnation. By giving examples from his own life, I recognised myself in his words and I’ve gotta say, I really was seriously impacted and changed. I realised I was still (after all this time) in a toxic relationship with my Ideal Self, continually comparing myself to her. I was in love with the idea of her far too much.
All those demands and expectations and absurd parameters needed to be laid down. I needed to mourn my “best self.”
– J. S. Park
Yes, improvement and growth are important to me, but I was measuring my own progress against Ideal Jess, not against who I really am. I was Eve in the book of Genesis holding the forbidden fruit, desperately reaching for equality with God and trying to be perfect like He is. The main problem was that my reality was far away from Ideal Jess and realising that constantly left me feeling like an ashamed failure.
… If I could lay down my idealized self and embrace my limitations, I could learn to like the person I really was and figure out where I needed help. Maybe then I could fail without it crushing me. Maybe then I’d feel like less of an impostor, because I wasn’t trying to be everybody’s idea of what I should be. Maybe then I could quit running myself ragged up the side of a cliff called perfection. I could even enjoy my own success once in a while.
– J. S. Park
I love how growth comes when you least expect it. Reading J. S. Park’s book was a catalyst for me to experience a deeper level of understanding and breakthrough in perfectionism. I love how God in his kindness and gentleness, uncovers things when I’m ready. I felt free when I worked through this stuff with Him, not condemned (which I would have in the past). I was ready to breakup with Ideal Jess.
And so, we broke up.
Perhaps sometimes I will be tempted to reach out and compare myself to her, but now I’m aware that it’s a toxic relationship that I definitely don’t want to let back in.
Since ‘the break-up’ I have experienced subtle but beautiful changes in my thoughts and actions. I have allowed my mind to be at ease when I ponder things like purpose and legacy. Instead of feeling disappointed, I feel inspired. Instead of feeling like a failure, I feel secure in where I am on my journey. I am settled in my skin.
I share all this with you dear reader because it can be encouraging and enlightening to see someone else’s journey. The decision and willingness to challenge long-held ideas can be uncomfortable, but absolutely worth it. Feel free to be inspired by my imperfections. 🙂
Plus let’s be honest, everyone loves a dramatic break-up story, as long as it’s someone else’s. 😉
Love Jess xxoo
PS – I originally stumbled across J.S Park through the WordPress Reader and man, I thank God that I did.