Perfection? Let it go!
We all want to be good - the best - at what we do, as doulas, educators, care providers or as parents.
It is great to always be learning and improving, but if you’re like us, sometimes this determination and drive might make you feel inadequate, discouraged or even downright defeated, because no matter how much you learn, do or how hard you work, you can’t ever seem to get to the place where you feel like you have “arrived.” You will be stumped (again) by a question you cannot answer or a situation you haven’t encountered before. You will have clients who you just don’t seem to connect with or who don’t seem to share your beliefs. You may walk away from a long, difficult birth hating your job and wondering why you keep doing this. You will reflect back on a situation and think of a dozen ways that you could have handled it better, and kick yourself. You will meet people and see people online who seem to be more professional, experienced, informed, respected, connected, organized, wise, patient, kind, [fill in the blank] than you.
At some point, we need to acknowledge and accept the fact that we will never be perfect and we will never have all of the answers. It is important to work hard and always keep learning, but it is equally important to celebrate and appreciate where we are, how far we have come, and the good things that we are doing. Each of us is on our own unique journey and calling, and even though it may seem like someone else has it all together and has figured out all the answers, that person has not yet “arrived” either, because no one is perfect, and no one ever will be. It simply isn’t in the ability of humans to never make a mistake. Take small steps forward every day, keep learning and keep improving, and let go of the perfectionism. Extend to yourself the same patience, grace and courtesy that you would to any of your good friends, accept that you will make mistakes and will always have more to learn, and do the best you can with who you are and where you are.
We suggest doing these four things today to celebrate yourself in all of your imperfect glory:
- Write down three valuable lessons you have learned over the past year from your less-than-perfect moments and how these lessons will help you next time.
- Look yourself in the eye in the mirror for 1-2 minutes and tell yourself all of the beautiful things you see (inside and out).
- Reach out to a friend or colleague and ask them to share three things that they admire or respect about you.
- Read back through any thank you notes, birth announcements or other correspondence you have received from families that you have served and remember that you are making a difference, even when you don’t feel like it.
A wise friend once said, “Trying to change the system is overwhelming but helping someone have an empowering birth? Doesn't get much better than that! And in the end, that's also how the system gets changed.” One step, one mom and one learning experience at a time. Keep doing your work - it matters, you are valuable and needed, and you’re doing a great job!
Don't forget to pin the quote for an additional reminder to go easy on yourself. And if you have students/clients that are struggling with perfection, our "What Makes a Birth Perfect?" article can help!
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