Are you always pushing yourself for the quintessential A? I do. Anything I do, I push myself to do it perfectly. As a society, I think most people are hard on themselves whether consciously or subconsciously. Many live with the endless drive to thrust themselves beyond the norm or average. The perfection chase of utmost success whether at work, home and play is how many of us start our days. Be prettier, funnier, wealthier, healthier, and wealthier – can you hear the battle cry now? In the end though, what really matters? Happiness? Being Healthy? Or the grade?
Since I participated in Season 1 of the Coach Peggy Real Time transformation coaching docuseries, I have recognized that just because I try to do everything perfectly, I am not perfect. And more importantly, just because I want to do things perfectly, it is not healthy. I spent my entire life going for the A. I mean A+. I excelled in school, was a skilled athlete, graduated college Summa Cum Laude, and even after my first child, I lost all of the 70 pounds I had gain in just six months. Lots of A’s there, right?
We should probably start with asking what is an A? For most of us, we refer to the grade we received in school. We received a grade based on our effort. The baselines determined by scholars as the way to identify those who are knowledgeable or skilled at a task or subject matter. When you get older it is a bit harder to define what a true A is. There isn’t necessarily a baseline for receiving an A as a mother, wife, or business owner. And my A may not look anything like your A.
Feeling fat and disgusting after the birth of my child sent me into a total tailspin and the eating disorder from high school came crashing back. This is the first time, I truly became aware I was judging myself against what I felt was an image or expectation. I was not executing the perfect vision a pregnancy bounce back. The “Bravo” you are excellent or here is your gold star wasn’t the reward. I began to really judge my body image and identify unhealthy behaviors to point me in the right direction – getting back to “perfection.” The concept of getting A’s in school had now bled into real life.
The due diligence and consistency it takes to earn the gold in every aspect of your life is simply exhausting. I got to the point where I would only tackle projects or say yes to things when I knew I would be successful. I chose not to focus on exercise or diet because I deep down I knew I didn’t have the motivation to dedicate time and energy to receive the outcome I wanted – that I needed…the A. My perspective was all or nothing. This distorted reasoning caused me to deflect focus from myself, lose confidence and found it easiest to focus on everyone else. I was “happy” making everyone else happy. I kept that pattern up for years.
When the crazy pandemic hit, my deflection of self-care increased exponentially. I became Mrs. Couch Potato. The strict controls on what we could and could not do allowed me to hyper-focus on others instead of myself. Then….I found Coach, and you know how they say watch what you ask for. I didn’t think I wanted to change. I knew I needed to, but I wasn’t ready. What if I failed? When I joined the docuseries which is a 10-week, publicly aired show with other cast mates, I thought I am good at organization and homework, how hard can this be. Airing my dirty laundry was not of any interest to me, but I knew if I went public, it would increase my success rate. I attacked this commitment thinking, “no problem.” Hahahahaha. Little did I know, my history of going for the A wasn’t going to work this time.
We taped the show weekly, had tons of homework, and I took off running making sure I nailed every commitment which included eating healthy, adding exercise to my life again, and all sorts of challenges like writing letters, auditing your kitchen and closets to get rid of crap, and so much more. I tackled this journey with my historical, get it done and get an A approach. I rushed through so much of it. I was in such a high state of performance, I wasn’t even understanding what I was supposed to be learning. Self-discovery. And I got called out every week. Stop trying to be perfect, you are trying to be a Teacher’s Pet. I bet she spent more time trying to get me to slow down and be mindful and embed the concept that consistent B’s was healthier and more successful than getting A’s short-term. Apparently maintaining an A long-term isn’t doable. I couldn’t grasp the “settling” for a B. I mean REALLY!! I am an intelligent women, and I hold myself to high standards surely I can endure the long-term ranking of excellence.
It was when I realized that there are 24 areas of your life to balance, and you cannot isolate any one area of your life chasing perfection without other areas suffering. She finally got through to me. My social life outside of my immediate life did suffer if I hyper focused on finishing a course. Organization and sleep were affected on trying to write for weeks at a time. I began to ask myself the need to hold myself to such high standards. Ask what was I chasing? Determine what did an A mean?
If you had asked me to grade myself as a wife or mother, I would scream from Mt. Washington, I am an A Student. Yet comparatively, when I stepped back and looked at all the areas of my life I wasn’t. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t eat right. I didn’t get enough sleep, I didn’t take care of myself. Okay, okay. I get it…going for a B was actually starting to look like I would not be a failure.
Getting rid of perfection is not an easy process. Coming to terms with being normal; with being a human is a pressure I most likely learned from a family member or mentor. I then took that image and habit along with me. Creating an A image, does not bring health and happiness. Trying your best to improve your overall quality of life and continually checking in to make sure you are doing so in a healthy manner is still a challenge to me. I have had to learn to reframe certain things to include my self talk. I now look at exercise as a stress relief instead of getting into a size 4. I look at eating as fuel and drinking more water as a moisturizer for the inside and outside of my body. I think clearer. I have massively improved my bloodwork and that has nothing to do with getting an A. It was consistency and dedication.
The biggest change in my life since learning this concept is that going for the “B” makes me and those around me happier. I feel better. I have a lot more self-confidence. I am using my creativity every day. I can now look in the mirror and see a sassier and healthier version of myself. And frankly, I love it. I have learned that when you look back in your history, there are lessons we have learned that can help us today and in the future. There are lessons we can rewire and create a healthier outcome. I learned that B = Badass.
Don’t strive for perfection. Strive for improvement. Strive for balance. The result will be an impeccable version of YOU, (warts and all).
Christine Marshall Hersom
All Things Wellness, LLC
Catch one of Coach Peggy’s first radio shows called: Coach, Couch & Coffee on Hurry Up & Fail