Letting go of Perfection

Honesty

I have spent time on the podcast making sure things are correct.

I have been looking at many new projects I have lined up, do they make sense? Are people going to like them? Or am I just rambling on again?

I spent time getting images together and editing them to make sure they fit the requirements of how to make a sharable post.

But yet, that post is not what you are reading right now. This is.

I had a reflection of an article on the story of 19 year old Madison Holleran form 2014. I watched the video from Madison Holleran’s family and friends. It just hit me about how Madison Holleran’s suicide could have been any of us.

No, really.

This is where our strive for perfection has taken us.

I know it is not just me. I know many of you are so called perfectionists, and I am more guilty than anyone of feeling the need to “do the best I can” in everything I do. A few years ago, I wrote the post called Redefining the Best You Can, but that was just for running.

What does it mean if we let go of this need to prove ourselves within our easy running, yet we do not do it for the rest of our life?

Madison’s social media accounts showed a happy girl. Her Instagram photos displayed images of someone who seemed to have it all, although her family said that she was indeed happy in those moments, and she was a “live in the moment” person, they did not show what was going on behind the scenes.

We are all guilty of this.

Painting a picture that we are so happy, but really, what we are doing is looking at what others are doing, and thinking, WOW I wish I had that/did that/saw that/lived that life. You can fill in the blanks with whatever you want, but we do it.

I have fallen into the trap many times of looking at other runners, thinking hey, thats not fair. Why is everything working for them, but not for me? Why are they running faster than me? And I am an elite runner! I am sure some of you think that about me.

The point is, we need to let go of this NEED to be perfect, this NEED to show our best selves all the time.

It is okay to cry, it is okay to say you are struggling, and it is okay to reach out for help.

I have sometimes been guilty of sharing too much, and warned not to be as honest on my blog, but you know what, if it helps people, then to me it is worth it. If it gives one person hope that they are not the only one struggling, then it is all worthwhile.

So for that reason, for Madison, I am going to keep on sharing. I am going to keep letting my word vomit come out, share with the world about the ups and especially the downs, as there are many of them.

Just like my friend Carla (whose book What You Can When You Can came out this week), I am going to do my best to do what I can at that precise moment, trying to accept that there is no such thing as perfect.

We can only do what we can in that present moment, and that is all we can ask for.

My main point of this post is to tell you; my family, my friends, my readers, my listeners even if this is just your first time reading my blog or listening to my podcast, that I am here for you. If you need a friend, if you need someone to vent to, or even just ask a question, I am here.

I hope that you know by now that I do not mind sharing the bad, I do not mind sharing the insights, or the fact that I look into the mirror multiple times a day wondering if I would be faster if I was skinnier. But then I tell myself NO. It is my strength, it is what makes me strong, and it means I can enjoy the foods I love, rather than just wishing I could enjoy them. I am not perfect, and that is okay!

Or how about, every day I have to fight the urge not to look at some of the Instagram accounts of other runners who make me green with jealousy. I stay away from them because they make me doubt myself, feel bad about myself, and want to see them fail. I don’t like that side of me, but it is how I feel so to avoid the craving to be perfect, I avoid it as best I can.

Or maybe that when I try to take pictures of food, and they do not turn out how I want them to (like the featured image for this post), I feel like throwing the plate out the window, and I usually cry in frustration….yes, over something as insignificant like a plate of food that appears on my blog, but to me I will be judged, people will laugh if my photo does not look professional. Once again, I have to….okay, actually Steve has to remind me, that it doesn’t matter!

Those are just three examples of my impossible quest to be perfect, but I am vowing that I will keep trying to let them go, to accept Tina Muir for who she is.

Those who truly care and love you, will truly care about you no matter what you do.

There is no such thing as perfect, and the sooner we all accept that. The better off we will be. I am going to try. Will you join me by sharing something you want to get off your chest? If you do not want to say it on here, will you email me please? My email is at the bottom of this page.

Sorry for the long ramble, that came out as one big essay. I am not adding images throughout the post. I am not going to make a click to tweet, I am not going to make this post as “sharable” as possible. This post is not about that. This post is about letting go of perfection.

You can read the post on Madison here.

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33 Comments.

  • Michele Rosen
    May 8, 2015 5:37 am

    I used to play that perfection game and it’s a tough one that no one can win at of course. I feel that pressure to a lesser degree as I get older, but it comes up, often as I consider how I’m “doing in life” as a mom, in “career” (that’s a rough one!) and in the value I put out to the world. It’s so tough. But I agree with you, it’s so important that we’re real about the dark side, tears, anxiety because other people don’t need to see only the pretty pictures! You have a huge heart, and that shines through no matter what pictures we see on the blog. Thanks for writing this, it’s exactly what so many of us need to be reminded of 🙂

  • I read the story about Madison when you posted it to FB yesterday and I just couldn’t believe it…although I could absolutely understand it. Your honesty and open book personality is what keeps people coming back to this space and what makes me love you as a friend, so please keep doing it! I can relate to looking in the mirror and thinking “Maybe 5 more pounds?” or thinking how badly my time sucked in the marathon I just ran and asking “How many years can I keep doing this before it’s just ridiculous? I’m getting old!” Life is ugly and imperfect. Like you, I have my husband (and kids) to keep me grounded. As long as I stay the course, try not to compare (almost impossible!!!) and be true to my family, I know I will be ok. Thank you Tina. This all needed to be said!

  • I much more appreciate the honest bloggers (and people in general) than those who pretend everything is always so darn perfect. Thanks for sharing this today 🙂

  • jillconyers
    May 8, 2015 6:19 am

    Tina, when I let myself go of perfection I accomplished more and was so much happier! There was at time when I thought perfectionism was a strength. Little did I know. Have a fabulous Friday! xoxo

  • Rebecca P.
    May 8, 2015 7:28 am

    Life is NEVER going to be perfect. It can be great (for you) and it can be bad (for you), but you have the power to determine that. “It is okay to cry, it is okay to say you are struggling, and it is okay to reach out for help.” <—- that is truth!

  • Perfection is overrated, impossible, and unattainable. Nothing that I wish to be. I’ve spoken before on my blog that I enjoy the slightly “amateur” aspect of it–that I still show some of the rough edges, that I still doubt myself (openly), that my big personality has its cracks. I have gone through depression before, I have dealt with anxiety, and I have watched loved ones do so as well. But I have also gone through (and continue to go through) what (I hope) very few will ever experience, and it has given me a perspective of gratitude that I am so thankful for–that there is REALITY in imperfection, and laughter. You just have to find it; You can’t hide it away. Otherwise you lying to others as well as yourself. My heart breaks for Madison and her parents.

  • Tina, we have shared some emails this week and I admitted to you that this year I have been falling into the trap of under-eating to become being skinnier and faster. Lucky my Dr pulled me up on it – but it has given me a real fright!! We can’t chase perfection because it just does not exist. We’re chasing something that isn’t there. What did I expect to happen? The number on the scales would have kept dropping but when would I have been happy or…perfect??
    Your honesty in your blog brings these really important topics into the open, and yes you are really helping people by being honest. I agree with Meredith below – blogs like yours are so much authentic than blogs who really do make everything out to be perfect. My thoughts are with Madison and her family. And thank you for sharing with us. Christina xx

  • Great post. How terrible about Madison 🙁 I guess the truth is you just never know really what’s going on in reality. Social media is both amazing and terrible. It brings people together but also creates a world of comparison and insecurity. I’m learning to just let things go, not care what people say and just live life the best I can to my own standards.

  • Julie Wunder
    May 8, 2015 8:40 am

    I need to hear this again and again. Thanks for posting this and keeping it so real.

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    May 8, 2015 8:54 am

    Such a sad story about Madison, and you are so right in what you said about people hiding the problems in their life. As I have gotten older I feel like I have been able to get go of expecting things to be perfect. I still aim for way more control in areas of my life that are unnecessary, and I am constantly working on letting go of thoughts and feelings relating to perfectionism- its just not attainable! Thank you for sharing this and I know there are many others out there who need to read this as well.

  • I read the story too and it really hit me hard. Especially for young girls (but really anyone) it’s important to not mask your feelings. Life is messy and we aren’t supposed to be perfectly happy all the time. Social media can be harmful but I think if more people (like you!) are open and honest, people will feel more comfortable with themselves.

  • urban vegan
    May 8, 2015 9:28 am

    Perfection is ugly…and impossible. xx

  • YES!! I am all for positive thinking, but sometimes I feel like the quote culture has created an idea that we should never feel bad…it’s not real. Those low moments teach us a lot.

  • Striving for perfection is a slippery slope and in this age of social media it’s very challenging not to compare yourself to others, but what we see isn’t always what’s real. If only more people would share what really happens behind the scenes, I think more people would be happy with who they are and where they are in their lives.

  • The story of Madison is utterly heart-breaking, and in the age of social media and blogging it’s hard to not share just selective images of our lives without realizing the pressure of perfection these produce. Thank you for this wonderful post, Tina – as bloggers who construct aspects of our lives for public consumption, it’s a reminder we need more frequently. I hated it in graduate school when people would remark that my life was perfect because I had good grades, was doing well at my assistantship, and planning a wedding, and I find that people say that about others’ lives to avoid close friendships. Opening about imperfections breaks down those barriers that lets people in for real, enduring friendships.

  • Love your thoughts here, Tina. Your passion comes through- and I completely agree. We are often taught to hold it all in and smile which is so unhelpful! Especially for our young girls- they need to know that EVERYONE struggles and it is okay to be real.

  • Great post, Tina! I love this about perfectionism. You are awesome, Tina. Indeed, NONE of us is perfect. The older I become, the less I even want to TRY to be perfect, because really perfect is quite boring and restricting actually.

    Anyways, I don’t mean to sound like a “fix it person” here, but with those pancakes, it looks like they are doing that because you don’t have a good binding agent (or enough). I’ve sooo done that mistake too. I’d suggest you try purchasing MetRx pancake mix or Flapjacked pancake mix (both are high in protein), or just put more flour or baking powder into your batter. It looks like you are putting in too much liquid (banana, yogurt, or even protein powder <– which actually DOESN'T act enough like a binding agent like flour).

  • I read and shared Madison’s story yesterday and sadly wans’t as shocked. Letting go of perfection is so hard but will bring happiness. I feel it when I let go of little bits of it.

  • I am so moved by this. After having kids, I have let go of my need to be perfect for many reasons. First off, everything is a mess when you have kids, the house, your car, many aspects of your life become chaotic and it only stresses everyone out to try and control everything. Second, I do not want my kids to think that if mommy needs to be perfect, so I do too. They were born perfect and it’s up to me as their mom to allow their personalities to unfold in natural way. It’s tough though, sometimes you get caught up in comparing your life to others, and it’s easy to question yourself when this happens. I do have something to get off my chest though. I live with migraine and TMJ pain almost everyday of my life and it breaks me down sometimes. Today is one of those days.. the pain is so bad that sometimes I feel like life is not worth living. I get tired of saying anything because people get sick of hearing it and there’s nothing anyone can do, so why bother? you know? I’m so grateful to have my children and husband to keep me going- I can’t have those thoughts for too long because they all need me and I need them, so one that note I have a great deal of empathy for Madison and her family.There are simply no words… it’s heartbreaking.

  • Martina Di Marco
    May 8, 2015 4:22 pm

    I read Madison’s story yesterday and it seriously brought me to tears – such a beautiful, talented girl coming from such a loving family. I felt heart-broken for her and, especially, for her parents and siblings… Thank you for always keeping it real, Tina. You are so sensitive and smart that you totally understand that, being an elite runner with a public blog, you are referring to an audience of more inexperience runners who look up to you and take you as an example to follow. That is a huge responsibility to have. So yes, thank you for showing us that running (and life in general) is not always easy, even if your name is Tina and you are as speedy and talented as they come 😉

  • Thank you for being so honest and open on your blog, Tina. Because YES, it does inspire and help people. Nobody is perfect. And talking about that is important.

  • hey, those posts are needed. the let go and just write for YOU. NO perfection needed or SEO! LOL!

  • I love this and this is why I love following you as well. I love your honesty, and I don’t want to see perfection from everyone because I know it’s not possible. I have never strived for perfection, but strived to be the best person I can be and it does come with some stress. Just recently though, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m far from perfect and I’m embracing it! I’m not the perfect mom, I wife or runner, and I never will be. Once we take that pressure off things fall into place more easily I think. Love you and your blog. Keep up the imperfect work 😉

  • Christine @ Love, Life, Surf
    May 8, 2015 5:20 pm

    I read the article this morning and it’s heartbreaking. I definitely fall into the perfectionist trap and it’s something that I’ve gotten a lot better about. But we need to be open and honest because no one’s life is perfect. Thanks for writing this post Tina.

  • Nicole Cook
    May 8, 2015 6:49 pm

    Rock on Tina!! This is actually the main reason I got hooked on your blog in the first place, believe it or not. You are honest and real. Keep it up!

  • I just love this. And with a background in mental health, I love anything that tries to reduce the stigma associated with mental health disorders. Social media is tricky – if you post too much negativity, people don’t want to see that…but if you post the highlights, it’s not an accurate reflection. Thanks for sharing so openly and the story about Madison, it was heart-breaking to read.

  • Tina this is THE best post I have read in a very long time. I follow your blog because you are a sweet person, an amazing runner, and a very caring person. I am 50, a marathon and ultra runner and in my day eating disorders were rampant but what I see today is indeed the “perfectionism’ of what you talk about. This is your world, your generation, and I feel it is far more critical and judging than the world I grew up in.
    The social media accounts and instagram paints pictures of women that seemingly have it all. They don’t. All of the visuals I see are of insanely fit women posting pics of themselves, their workouts and what they eat. The weird thing is, women can take diet pills or injections and get thin, work out at the gym and look amazing but be SO unhappy. Here Madison’s story resounds.
    It is a difficult world for young people to grow up in.

  • Sandra Laflamme
    May 10, 2015 10:24 pm

    I read about Madison too. The story is heartbreaking and reveals the true pressures that she felt to be perfect. I feel heavy grief for her family and friends. As a perfectionist I struggle often with not being able to move forward with the fear that something won’t be right or that it will not be good enough. This is something that has troubled me now for 38 years and I am still working through it. The pressures of social media are incredibly tough even as an adult because we are all consumed with comparing ourselves to one another and not celebrating each other enough. Thank you for your thoughtful post Tina.

  • happyfitmama
    May 11, 2015 8:47 pm

    I read Madison’s story the other day and have not stopped thinking about it. I always think of the saying, “everyone has a hard.” You can paint a pretty picture that everything is great, but really there probably is something they are struggling with. Thanks for writing this!

  • Jenn @ www.foxrunsfast.com
    May 12, 2015 8:46 pm

    Just wanted to say that I loved this post, Tina. Thank you for being so honest with us and sharing the good AND the bad.

  • I was raised in an environment of perfectionism. As my grandpa said to me, why do you play that song (I played the piano) if you’re going to make a mistake? It’s hard to let go of something so ingrained. I’m not as hard on my children as my mother was on me, but I’m plenty hard on myself.

  • Thank you for posting this. Everyone needs this reminder. I have felt that pressure for perfection as a runner in high school and I still struggle with the lasting effects of the negative thoughts I had about my body as an 18 year old – I’m 23 now and race half-marathons and am training for my first marathon and I’m so thankful for my strong body but sometimes I have those same thoughts – would I be faster if I was skinnier again? Comparison is the thief of joy. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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