You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

Perfectionists. People who accept nothing less than perfection from themselves, no matter the cost. We all know them. I just didn’t realize that I was one – or at least I didn’t want to accept it.

I always considered myself to be motivated, not for bragging rights, but for myself. As a child, my parents never had to get onto me about doing my homework or studying, I would push myself to get it done. Thought a C is considered average, if I made below an A I would be upset – well no, if I made below a high A, I would be upset. Yet I wasn’t a perfectionist, I was motivated.

These standards followed me through high school and into college – though I will admit I am a bit of a procrastinator at times. In the counseling theories course I took last semester, we talked about how perfectionism is a distortion of thought because it is impossible to be perfect. I sat there and agreed, all the while having the thought distortion that I wasn’t a perfectionist.

But I am. I am motivated, but I’m also a perfectionist. I hold myself to such high standards and get immensely distraught if I don’t meet them; however, I’m not perfect and I’m not going to be excellent at everything, and if I think I have to be, I’m just going to distress myself further. I think what finally made me realize it was when I started setting specific goals for school, housework, and exercise in my planner and then I saw myself not meeting them. Sometimes it is due to being lazy and not feeling like doing whatever task I have before me. Sometimes, thought, it is due to me setting unrealistic expectations. I still set monthly, weekly, and daily goals, but I’ve had to adjust them. Now if I don’t meet a goal, I try to give myself grace and evaluate why I didn’t meet the goal: Did I schedule too much for one day and I just need to move the task to tomorrow? Or was the goal itself (like doing yoga everyday) unrealistic for the season I’m in or just unrealistic in general? Or was I just lazy? I try evaluate and I move on, and I often write little notes in my planner to remind myself that I am human and I need to give myself room to breathe.

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Why did I share this with you? Because I know that I’m not the only one who often holds myself to impossible standards. I also know that I can’t be the only one who is or ever has been in denial about it. Cut yourself some slack. Be motivated. Set goals. Have standards. Get things done. But don’t expect to be Superman or Wonder Woman. Give yourself some grace. You don’t have to be perfect.

Photo Credit: Michał Grosicki

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Junior Year, Here I Come!

School starts in ten days and I seriously cannot wait to get back. I cannot believe I’m already halfway through with college; it seems completely unreal. This year is going to be unlike any before. I’ll be taking a 15 hour course load (four out of five of my classes are psychology classes), I’ll be turning twenty in less than a month, I’ll be working part time, I’ll be getting married in the spring semester. Things are going to be hectic. But you know what? I absolutely cannot wait.

I honestly love school, especially my psychology classes (I’m a psych major if you haven’t guessed). The funny thing is, career wise, I have no idea what I want to do. All I know is that I’m in the major God wants me to be in. That’s all He’s told me, and I’m at peace with that. I’ll follow every step He tells me to take, even if the future is uncertain. I’m excited to continue working through school; I like being able to provide for myself (and having a job makes paying bills quite a bit easier). I’m beyond excited to get married to the love of my life in less than seven short months.

College life is crazy as it is. I know that there are going to be nights where I want to quit work and school, I’m going to cry and eat icecream and watch Netflix instead of doing homework. I know that being a commuting, working, married woman isn’t exactly going to make things easier, but who finds adventure on the easy route? I’ll follow each step that God asks me to take, no matter how scary, uncomfortable, or hard.

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

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Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

The Major Changes of a College Sophomore

When I was in high school I heard a statistic that said the average college student changes their major eight times.  Crazy, right? That’s what I thought, too; I was determined to start and finish college with the same major. Oh, and finish college in four years.

Fast forward a few years and here I am in my third semester of college and on my technically third major change. So what happened to that girl who was bound and determined to never change her major?

She started college as an excited Child and Family Studies major with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education (that’s “pre-k through 3rd grade teacher plus some other stuff” in layman’s terms).  She was going to graduate and become a teacher like she had dreamed of her entire life.  Her first semester was filled with general core classes and general classes for Family and Consumer Sciences, which was the umbrella her major was under.  Everything was fine and dandy until she got to her second semester and started her Education classes where she realized very soon into the semester that she was not called into teaching and dropped the Early Childhood Education part of her major (Major Change #1).

On top of this abrupt realization that she did not want to be a teacher after all, she realized she didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life now – which is a whole lot scarier in college than in high school. Luckily, she still had the Child and Family Studies (CFS) part of her major as a safety net so she still had plenty of options other than teaching – and only a few education classes under her belt that now counted as electives.  She decided to just ride it out, knowing that God would lead her into the career she was called to be in.

About midway through the semester she decided to tack on a second major, Psychology (Major Change #2), because she had loved the subject since she took a course in high school two years earlier.  Her career options were now expanded even further and she was now considering grad school so she could become a counselor.

Fast forward to her third and current semester.  She’s in some general classes, a CFS class, and a psychology class.  It didn’t take long for her to realize where her passion actually lies, and it’s not in Child and Family Studies, nor was it ever.  She realized that she only stayed in CFS because it was a nice safety net in case she didn’t have what it takes to be a counselor.  She rationalized it all the time: “Well, if I don’t make it into grad school I’ll have another degree to fall back on.”  “I’ll have a degree to work with while I’m working on my Master’s in psychology.” The list went on and on. She also didn’t want to have wasted time in classes that didn’t count towards her major because time is money – especially in a private college.

The semester went on and she realized more and more that CFS wasn’t where she wanted to be – or where she needed to be.  God has called us to trust Him in every aspect of our lives and she wasn’t trusting Him with her education, she was trusting her safety net. So, finally, when it was time for advising meetings to plan next semester’s schedule,  she broke the news: she was going to single major in psychology (Major Change #3). She then was quickly assigned a new adviser in the psychology department and within a week she had a meeting with him and she realized that this is where she’s supposed to be.

So that’s what happened to the girl who entered college determined to be a teacher.  She’s now on the road to becoming a counselor – who also wants to dabble in research – and is trusting God with her education.  The idea of grad school still scares her to death, and yeah, she took quite a few classes that now count as electives instead of towards her major, but she is excited for the journey God is leading her on and she knows that He will provide like He always has – even if it means changing her major five more times.

The world will tell you that you need a back-up plan, a safety net, but God tells us to trust Him and the plans that He has for you.  We often only see what is immediately in front of us, but God sees the bigger picture.  Trust Him to lead you even when it’s hard because you’re scared because you don’t know what to do next or how you’re going to make it financially or whatever it may be.  The journey may not be exactly the way you expected it, but it will be worth it.

Photo Credit: Kelli Tungay

Limited Vision

“The leaders did not consult the Eternal […]”  Joshua 9:14 (VOICE)

Here’s the short version of the story in Joshua 9:

The Gibeonites (who were Hivites) were afraid that the Israelites would attack them so they sent some sneaky men to trick the Israelites into making a peace treaty with them.  The Israelites didn’t question the foreigners too much and, here’s the key, without consulting God, made the treaty.  Not long after, the Israelites found out the truth about their foreign friends and realized that they had made a treaty with a people they were clearly not supposed to (Deuteronomy 7).  Even though the land of the Gibeonites rightfully belonged to the Israelites, they had to honor the treaty they made because oaths made in the name of God were sacred.

Reading this story, we know that if the Israelites would have consulted God before making the treaty He would have revealed the truth to them, but instead of asking God what to do, they did what they thought was best.  Sound familiar?

God has great plans for us, greater plans than we could fathom, but we are often so egocentric that we think we know what is best for us.  Realistically, we are zoomed in, we only see part of the picture that is our life.  God, on the other hand, has the entire view.  Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to consult the One who sees all, knows all, created all than to use our limited vision to make decisions?

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  “Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!”  Psalm 139:17 (VOICE)

“We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”  Romans 8:28 (VOICE)

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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