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“Curated” Content vs Rough Beauty: Become a Recovering Perfectionist

Do you get sucked into perfectionism sometimes?

As a recovering perfectionist, I still get sucked into it sometimes. Can you relate?

Most women I speak with can. It’s drilled into us from such a young age to do things perfectly. As if there even is such a thing.

olive chunnel paintingTake an adorable 10 year old I met last month. I was riding the Chunnel train between London and Paris. I slid into my assigned seat right next to her. She happily told me she brought a coloring book and her favorite gel pens for the train ride.

“Yaaayyyy!!” I laughed in delight while showing her my travel art supply kit. We spent the 2 hour and 16 minute journey creating art together. She wanted to make art like what she saw in my travel journal.

Olive unicorn portraitA few times she said “Oh mine doesn’t look like yours” or “It’s not coming out right”.

I explained that, for me, the best art was when you let go of it having to be “perfect” and you just experiment to see what will happen.

We had fun making a mess and practicing letting go of perfectionism together.

We had the best time.

Here’s a Unicorn Girl piece she gifted me at the end of our journey. I love what she wrote “Don’t be afraid to be unique.”

Here’s what her mom said about our experience on Instagram: perfection is not goal

Recovering Perfectionists Anonymous

Today I want to invite you to join me in RPA.

What is RPA?

RPA = Recovering Perfectionists Anonymous.

There’s no sign up page, you just decide that you’re a member.

As a recovering perfectionist myself, my goal is to keep myself perfectionistically sober.

We can recover together.

Let’s look at the definition of Perfection:

/pərˈfekSH(ə)n/

1. the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
2. the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.

Yeah right. IMPOSSIBLE.

If you’re going to:

  • try
  • create
  • learn
  • build
  • be
  • improve
  • strengthen
  • grow

ANYTHING, you’ll have to mess up. Most probably, a lot.

Perfection is a mythological state we strive to hide behind in order to stay safe.

It keeps us safe, guarded and small.recovering perfectionist award

If you decide to join Recovering Perfectionists Anonymous, know this:

Being a recovering perfectionist doesn’t mean you’re cured. It’s an ongoing struggle.

ESPECIALLY in a photoshopped and carefully curated world.

It WILL get easier each time you say NO to perfectionism.

Some days I do great. Others not so much. I’m discovering where my triggers are and over time, you will too.

It will be harder to stay in recovery if you’re online. But it can be done.

I’m a late adopter to Instagram. Omigosh there is massive amounts of carefully curated perfectionism happening on Instagram.instagram perfection

As I decided to add Instagram to my social media channels. I researched who to follow to learn about Instagram for business.

There are a lot of people posting incredibly beautiful curated content. Some posts talk about being imperfect and messy. The entire feed shows something very, very different. It show only incredibly – perfect – images.

Anyone else feel a teeny tiny disconnect there?

Last year, while spending more time on Instagram and learning about how to use Instagram for business, I went on a social media perfectionism “bender”.

A Perfectionism Bender

In the context of perfectionism on social meda:

perfectionist benderA perfectionism bender is an extended period of continued and increased striving to craft and curate the perfect feed, while expanding feelings of self inflicted shame that your feed – and consequently you – might possibly suck.

A perfectionism bender is a multiple day spree during which the person focuses an excessive amount of time on carefully curating and perfecting their feed. There may be mild cajoling or forcing of loved ones involved who must take 800+ photos or video to get the approved feed-worthy shot.

Thankfully, Joe would NEVER in a million years put up with this from me, so I’m relatively safe there.

If you’re on a perfectionism social media bender, you might actually sleep or work for a short time, wake up and start thinking about your inadequate feed, in comparison to the perfect influencer feeds.

I also found myself getting way too attached to the numbers if my Instagram wasn’t consistently growing.

Is my Instagram growing at what feels like a glacial rate? Yes. glacier

However, I’m unwilling to play the follow / unfollow games (that a lot of coaches teach) with complete strangers in order to gain a flurry of new followers – many of whom are playing the same game – who promptly unfollow new followers a few days later to keep their feed top heavy on the followers.

I’m unwilling to tag tons of people (unless the post truly involves them) to get around the tricky Instagram algorithm to ensure they see, like and comment on my feed.

Real grows more slowly, but it’s real.

real growth is slowI would rather be naturally attracting people who want me, the good, the bad, the joyous, the meh and the ugh. I like following people in groups where I have a connection to them and enjoy interacting with them. I follow people on my email list who I’ve connected with or who have answered one of my emails. I follow people I’m interested in or whose feed I truly enjoy.

In an attempt to be real, I have posted and will continue to post photos of my art journal that are not pretty. These are my bad art posts.

The definition of bad art is art the person who created it doesn’t like.

This is my attempt to inspire people to reject perfectionism and one way I can do that is share the art I must create that I don’t personally like but that is a VITAL part of creating the good art.

Just like any area of life or business – you MUST do “bad art” (stumble, fall, fail, fall short) IF you ever want to get to the things that make YOU feel successful. This is anti-perfectionism in action and also helps me in my recovery.

I’ll also post photos like my recent travels ones that are me – laugh lines, melasma forehead, sweat beads, hat hair and all.

miss out on common humanityWe miss out on our shared common humanity – and all it’s messy, beautiful gifts – when we choose only to post perfection.

I’ve made some incredible connections on social media with people I’ve never met in person and who I adore. That only happens when you are real. Some of them have bought from me. Some haven’t. Great!

Ironically, Brené Brown has made vulnerability something many now strive to do PERFECTLY.

Nowhere is this more evident than on Instagram.

Striving for perfection is exhausting.

It’s exhausting for you and everyone in your life. Just ask my first husband. :/

Last Spring, I was done striving for perfection on Instagram.

It was universal timing that I was starting my 30 days of Heartwork Journaling on Instagram stories in May. Why? Because the night before the series began, Joe & I had decided to part ways. I felt heartsick and thought about cancelling the series. heartwork journaling livestreams

Upon reflection, I realized that it would be SO much better to do it and be REAL about what was happening. Show exactly how I would be processing it in with Heartwork Journaling.

It was a HUGE OPPORTUNITY to show how Heartwork Journaling helps you work through the pain and grief, not just the fun stuff.

Since then, we have reconciled AND I got so many messages of appreciation about showing REALITY in relationships.

You are a Natural Diamond in the Rough.

I’m choosing to show up on social media is as a natural diamond in the rough.

A natural diamond is one that is made over a long period of time from porous carbon.

The high pressure, high temperature and movement of Mother Earth turns it into one of the strongest substances known to humans.

Note: HIGH PRESSURE and HIGH TEMPERATURE creates a natural diamond.

unicorn on my art tableThe yucky, uncomfortable stuff.

The reality.

Not only the unicorns, rainbows and glitter of perfection.

Though I am not opposed to any of those, especially on my art table!

Of course, a refined and skillfully CUT diamond is beautiful, shiny and… perfect.

However, pieces of the natural rough diamond had to be cut away to create this perfection.

The entire natural rough diamond has been made SMALLER, refined by man.

rough vs cut diamond

 

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be created and refined by Mother Nature than by instruments SIMPLY BECAUSE it has been culturally programmed into us that this is what we should desire.

I don’t want pieces of me cut away or refined because someone says I should show up on social media with a carefully crafted, refined, perfectionistic feed.

One person recently suggested I shouldn’t post my love for Bob Ross because it would hurt my brand.

REALLY?

Scarcity and shame based marketing.

scarcity marketingDe Beers is the company that created a brilliant sales and marketing campaign in 1947.

They pretty well brainwashed us into wanting these perfect, cut and refined diamonds.

Their “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan and messaging made diamonds synonymous with a perfect marriage. Yeah, I won’t begin here on my thoughts about perfect vs. real marriages.

Just like our culture tells women, to:

  • strive
  • look hot
  • stay the right size
  • bring home the bacon and still do the majority of parenting & household chores (and look gorgeous and effortless)
  • defy gravity
  • contort ourselves into whatever possible to be perfect…

The diamond industry told us that a cut and refined diamond is what we should desire.

The more “perfect” it is… the better. shame marketing

This is simply excellent scarcity and shame based marketing in order to create a new market.

Like the excellent scarcity and shame based marketing of many things sold to women (including how to curate and craft the perfect social media feed) keeping us in the never ending striving for unattainable perfection.

Recovering Perfectionist Challenge.

Here’s my challenge to you.

Post more of YOU in all your feeds (here’s a beautiful example of Holly Tucci doing this with both a curated feed AND the courage to be her real self). If you feel scared or uncomfortable, please tag me a couple of times when you do, so I can cheer you on in doing something courageous.rough diamond beauty

Celebrate the natural, rough, incredibly beautiful diamond that you are.

Do more of the real “rough diamond” version of you on your blog, Twitter, Facebook business page, Instagram, YouTube, anywhere you are showing up to be seen and to use your voice.

Yes, have some photos and images that are well-thought out, beautiful, well-lit and perfectly curated. I’ll have those too.

Have awesome videos where you have great makeup and beautiful clothes on. I’ll have those too.

If you’re a maker, have gorgeous photos of your creations. I’ll have those too.

silly birthday postALSO have some images that come from the inspiration of the MOMENT. They might be funny, silly, emotional or even not-so-pretty.

Those are always the best ones anyway.

I’ll be challenging myself to become more and more brave doing this too.

On Crappy Comments

Will you have crappy comments? YES. I PROMISE you will.

When Joe and I decided to call it quits on our relationship, (we have since made a new decision and stayed together to do the work of a long term relationship) I did an impromptu Facebook livestream where I went over some of the 30 days of Heartwork Journaling Instagram lessons. I shared how I was working through tough stuff during those lessons. I was blown away by the response.

99% of the comments were full of:
• empathy (“me too”)
• sincere sympathy (I’m so sorry for you”)
• kindness and love

There was one person who made a really crappy comment.

At first, reading it made me want to contract into my shell with shame. I wanted to pull out my perfectionistic armor again.

Waiting to respond and collecting myself with some soothing self-talk, painting and conversations with friends, “I will neither confirm nor deny that the word d-bag was used.” during those conversations.

(That quote was COMPLETELY swiped from the mouth of Brené Brown herself in her audiobook “the Power of Vulnerability” and is also true and accurate here.)

The crappy comment wasn’t about me. It was about him. I rejected it and will not allow that to stop me from being the real me – with all the dusty, grimy, joyous, imperfect, unpolished, broken, colorful, kind, boundaried, loving parts.

mean commentsThe crappy comments are not about you.

Sometimes it’s as simple as miscommunication – or an out of context comment – which easily happens in the online world.

Sometimes they’re just from an insensitive person.

Sometimes they’re a mean spirited attempt to reveal your imperfection from the safety of their screen.

Don’t allow the crappy comments to stop you from showing up.

Perfectionism kills creativity.

perfectionism is a shield

If you want to be a successful in creating anything, you must become a recovering perfectionist.

If you want to create a thriving business, you must become a recovering perfectionist.

We don’t have to buy into the endless striving for perfectionism – for either the perfect cut and polished diamonds OR for the perfect cut and polished version of ourselves – in the real world or online.

8 Comments

  1. Mary on August 8, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Dear Maritza: I absolutely love this blog. It touches me in so many ways, I can make lots of comments about different issues.
    I especially feel your description of perfection: Perfection is a mythological state we strive to hide behind in order to stay safe. And I would add, as the oldest of 5 children I used the “mythological state” not only to stay safe, but to try to project only my perfect image, because somehow I felt if I didn’t set a good example for my younger brothers and sisters I would be responsible for the quality of their future.
    It is time for me to join you and become a member of RPA.

    • Maritza Parra on August 8, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Oh Mary, that’s a LOT of responsibility you’ve been carrying my friend. Glad to have you as a “founding member” of RPA – we can do this! <3

  2. Clayton Franklin on August 8, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Maritza,
    Thank you for the delightful email about this topic of perfectionism.
    Be sure to update if you ever achieve the “80% Solution” LOL 94% seems like the comfort zone…
    I’m claytonfranklin on instagram.
    Looking good, have a great day!
    ❤️

    • Maritza Parra on August 8, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment Clay! LOL I will be updating this for sure as the RPA journey continues! Glad we’re following each other on Insta my friend.

  3. Tracy hall on August 8, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Maritza, this is by far one of the best posts about perfectionism I’ve read. Your depth and breadth of its different ‘faces’ kept me reading. I am a card carrying member of RPA!!!! Love the photos and art too. This needs to be a book. Love!!!!

    • Maritza Parra on August 8, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Tracy, thank you!! You are DEFINITELY a cornerstone founding member of RPA! I’m so excited for your Walk n Talk series too. Gonna be a lot of good stuff there for recovering perfectionists, as I know you’re on this journey too. Mua!

  4. Ed Stutzman on August 13, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Fantastic post! Thank you for such an Illuminating and thought provoking piece.

    • Maritza Parra on August 13, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you Ed – I love seeing men post comments here – I tend to write with women in mind and keep getting reminded that sometimes perfectionism is truly strangling for men. Have experienced seeing this with my brother, my partner Joe and even a wonderful man who recently shared this post.

      It’s like y’all get shamed & ridiculed for showing any imperfection or vulnerability, especially around emotions or acknowledging your imperfection. When that’s what makes you empowered dudes SUPER COURAGEOUS and STRONG – going against the tide of what’s culturally acceptable.

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HEARTWORK JOURNALING LESSONS

HEARTWORK JOURNALING LESSONS