As the oldest child and a people pleaser, I have spent the majority of my life trying to do everything perfectly in order to feel loved. This began early in childhood, trying to please my parents. I would try to do everything as perfect as possible to receive praise, as I thought my parents' love was conditional on my performance. When I was older, I was always striving for straight As in school, looking for their approval that I was a good daughter and worthy of their love. When I was a junior in high school, I even took college classes the summer, just to please my parents and convince them I was good enough.
I carried this burden of perfection into early adulthood. In the workforce, I believed I needed to prove my worth as an employee by trying to never make a mistake; I spent a lot of time worrying and second-guessing my decisions, highly concerned what my boss or coworkers might think of me and my choices. And as a young mother, I spent a lot of time anxiously attempting to fit the perfect mold of what I thought a "good mom" should be. The worst thing in the world would be for my children to be disappointed in me as a parent.
It took me a long time to realize that the only person's love I needed to earn all along was my own. Learning to love myself just for me has been a journey. I have been blessed to have a wonderful community around me – family, friends, and my husband who always encouraged me and coached me to take new opportunities. Their unconditional love has allowed me to see that it is not about perfection – it is about progress. Progress towards where you want to go, to who you want to be, simply taking baby steps each and every day to get there. Life is about taking the chance to do something and really doing it, and not being fearful that everything won't be perfect. It's a waste of time and energy on negative thoughts that could be spent just enjoying the journey. I spent too long doing that, but the beautiful thing is, it is never too late to begin again, start over, and enjoy all the things that come with progression.