Nobody’s perfect. Giving myself grace.

Lately I have been challenging myself to let go of my need for perfection. It comes naturally to me to support others, to remind them that they did their best and to show them grace. Unfortunately I am not always able to extend this same grace to myself. A situation at work recently challenged me to practice what I tend to preach. 

One thing that I’ve realized about myself is that when things get too busy, I don’t give seemingly routine tasks my full attention and I make mistakes. As a result of not paying attention to details, an error was recently made and that caused a ripple effect that impacted half of my team. At first I was in denial that I caused the error. I actually thought that someone else made a mistake. When the person pointed out that they were just following the information I provided, I went back and thoroughly read the instructions this time. I realized that in my haste I answered a question, but not the question that was being asked. 

When I realized that I made a preventable mistake, I started a familiar conversation in my mind. “How could I have made this kind of mistake?” “Now what am I going to do?” “Can it be fixed?” “Everyone, including this person that I barely know is going to think I’m an idiot!” I literally had a melt down. Thank God Aasha was there to speak to me like I usually speak to others. “Calm down.” “There’s still time to fix it.” “It’s going to be okay.” 

I immediately apologized to the person trying to assist me and I asked what I could do to fix it. I contacted my team, explained the details of the mistake and I let them know that someone was graciously assisting me to make the needed corrections. 

This should be the end of the story, but unfortunately it isn’t. I caused additional problems because I became impatient in waiting for the issue to be resolved. I tried to “help” the process along, which resulted in another series of issues. Why?! I won’t go into the details, but once I realized that I had made another mistake, the negative self-talk started again. “Are you serious?” “You screwed this situation up again after she was already trying to help you out of the first screw up?” “Can this day just be over already?” “She must really think that I’m an idiot.” 

This time Aasha was busy, so I had to stop myself and get out of this negative cycle on my own. If the person helping me had been justifiably angry and impatient, this process could have gone left. Instead it became a process of learning for me and perhaps for her. 

Here’s what happened: 

I apologized again for not waiting for further instruction. I thanked her again for her help and I even offered to send her a gift card for coffee. She said that a gift card wasn’t needed and that she was doing her job. She also reminded me that I was new to this process. I admitted to her that I am kind of a perfectionist. She said that I should give myself grace. Hallelujah! I told her that I am working on it.  

This situation was difficult, but it provided confirmation. I really want to let go of this idea of perfection. My pursuit of perfection is in fact making my life and life situations harder.

I am sharing this situation with you in the hope that you, my family and friends will support me on my journey of letting go of perfection and giving myself grace. Perhaps you are on this journey or a similar journey yourself. Nobody on this earth is perfect and God’s grace is sufficient for everyone, including me. Much love!

-Darcell

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