Learning to Roll With it- Cozying up to Imperfection

'’HAHAHAHAAAA’’, I erupted into my phone, while pressing the voice record button.

I felt the need to send my loud, literal  ‘LOL’ as an audio message to a close friend (I have observed too many people write ‘lol’ when they weren’t lol-ing, so I rather send proof).

What was so funny? I had just watched her live story on Instagram that was, of course, not meant to be funny (I’ve been told many times that I don’t laugh when I’m supposed to). It was her business account and, as a Headache Nutritionist who had recently started her own practice, she was putting herself out there on the regular. Her video of the day on that particular day was a crash course on the 5 best sources of Magnesium. 

The first thing I noticed was how great she looked. Then I noticed her eyeshadow was moving. Oh, ok- it was a filter that was trying to keep up with her face; a sparkling make-up effect. Was that done on purpose or by accident, I wondered…? Did she even realize she did that? First slight chuckle.

In her first 15 second clip (as you probably know, IG breaks up your story into 15-second chunks), she tells us that the number 1 source of Magnesium is rice bran...immediately followed by (unapologetically) explaining that she doesn't have any and doesn't know where to find it. Second slight chuckle at this point. She then moved on to hemp hearts.

In the next 15 second clip, we learn that she completely forgot to mention the seaweed. She quickly corrects herself, saying: "oh, seaweed is number 2, not hemp hearts". There was even text added to the story to further highlight this correction.

The third 15 second clip starts by her saying "sorry my finger moved in the last clip and it didn't record properly". Okay, full blown laugh at this point and then all I remember is seeing a big bowl of spinach.

The last clip was of her in a tight shot, awkwardly filming herself holding up a bag of black-eyed peas with her arm looking like a T-Rex arm. 

All this amused me so much because 1- there was something wrong in every single clip. And 2- I could never in a million years see myself just accept all that and do the unthinkable- post all that imperfection.

“No Dress Rehearsal”…Wait- Are You Sure?!

Comedian Brian Regan joked about the difference between a cooking segment on TV, versus the real experience at home. On TV, everything is perfectly measured, chopped and ready-to-go in size-appropriate bowls; and all you have to do is slide everything into the dish and then pop it into the oven. Heck, there is even a second oven right beside the first one that they open and voilà- a perfectly cooked and visually stunning meal is ready, in minutes! The real experience, however, starts with him rummaging through his drawer for 20 minutes to find a spatula; and realizing halfway through that he doesn't have any eggs. Hmm…sounds about right. 

The problem with me is, there are several, very unnecessary dress rehearsals (and preparations for dress rehearsals). Both in my mind and in practice. Because my exhausting, impossible standards force me to aim and settle for nothing less than flawless, 2-min TV cooking segments. And that, without a team of a dozen or more people in a production company putting everything together. Which is obviously a recipe for anxiety, chronic disappointment, a shit ton of inaction and eventual depression. Try taking that out of an oven!

Do you want to know how the same scenario would have unfolded if it were ME handling the Magnesium tutorial video? (here’s a hint: no!)

The result:

Yes, that’s right- a big empty space. A.K.A nothing. My followers would have died of Magnesium deficiencies if they were relying solely on me. Okay, that’s probably not a thing, but you get what I mean!

My Preparations and Dress Rehearsals (Emphasis on Plural)

First I would have looked up several places near me to try and find rice bran. I would have called a few places to ask if they have any. If not- exasperated, I would have looked online for it like it was a national emergency. I would avoid Amazon, of course, because I want to support the little guy. I would have found some sketchy place online finally and ordered it and paid $20 or whatever expedited rice bran costs with shipping and handling. And now, since I had to wait, I would go do something else for a week. YAY, I get to do something else!

Ok so a week later, in comes the rice bran. What was it for again? Oh yeah- Magnesium video. Great- let me get my notes. Shoot- I would no longer have fresh spinach by then, as we used it in our smoothies and salads. And since it’s a tad out of the way to get more, why not wait till our grocery run on Sunday to obtain more spinach. It’s Wednesday, so there’s another 4 days. YAY- more waiting for reasons ‘out of my control’! That's perfect because Bachelor in Paradise starts tonight…so just like, 4 hours of my evening!

Okay, it’s Monday morning and I now have the spinach. Got the spinach, got the rice bran. Got my notes. Today is THE Day. Wait- what’s that sound on the window? Ah, crap- it’s raining! I wanted to film this outside, it won’t look as good inside. I envisioned it outside. Yeah, I'll wait till tomorrow. What’s one more day?

Tomorrow- ok, I’m ready and it’s nice out. First thing I do is take a shower and do my hair in preparation (c’mon- I can’t look average while talking about Magnesium!). Hair done. After breakfast, I put on a bit of make-up. Using a filter is out of the question; I want to look natural and be taken “seriously”. I’m happy because I have all my ingredients ready and feel good with how I look and love the cute shirt I have on. 

The filming starts. Oof, that is NOT a cute angle. Let me try again. Actually, let me get up and find an angle where the sun hits me in a more flattering way. I have to move my stuff again, but it’s ok. Ok- finally got it. Good angle, spoke clearly. A few retakes, but I’m happy with the footage I got.

Later on, after making supper: ok, let me do some editing now. Let me test putting it all together as an IG story. I have to make sure it flows well and doesn’t cut at awkward parts. Man, it is taking forever to do this, for some reason. Oh yes- and what captions? It would be cool if I had captions. Let me play with the fonts and colours a bit. (falls asleep on couch at some point).

The next day- oh yeah, I have to start preparing for my summit next week! Actually the Magnesium thing is kind of secondary now. And not as relevant. Ah, well- I’ll save it for another time. Or not. Maybe not. I’ll make better videos about other things in the future. Or maybe I'll just redo the whole thing at some other point (does EFF-ALL with the footage and all efforts put in).


I. know. I F***ING KNOW. This was as painful for you to read as it was for me to write.

Shall We Dance?

Are you dizzy yet?! That felt pretty damn chaotic and it was a made-up scenario for Pete’s sake.

With a lot of soul work and the right support, I was finally able to piece together why and how perfectionism became my status quo for most of my life. And upset, I was. Oh and breakdowns, there were (thanks Yoda).


Turns out most of my life I have been cha-cha-cha-ing between complete avoidance…and extreme perfectionism in virtually all (or most) areas of life. Both are stress reactions. Both protect me in the moment…and hurt me tremendously in the end. What started as a very functional human reaction of me protecting myself from further trauma and threats to my emotional safety (which our survival brains register as our whole-ass safety, as I understand it); eventually became a dysfunctional, deeply painful pattern that has resulted in lost time, lost money, lost lessons, lost opportunities, unused potential, a whole lotta unused rice bran (metaphor)…and what feels like a wasted life on some days, when I'm in my 'narrow-minded, catastrophizing' mode. And because a big part of the support I received was in a group setting, I quickly realized that holy shit- am I ever not alone in this. And I don’t mean “not alone” because I have support. I mean “not alone”, in that, other people experienced their own versions of the same damn thing!

7 Steps to Curing Perfectionism….NOT!!

Oh honey, this is not that blog post. I am not some bubbly, vapid influencer person wearing a cute sundress in a field; taking perfect shots for IG, as I do a playful, little twirl and then pose with my arms open to the sky and the sun beaming down on me. 

How funny is it that the first picture I found while searching through my stock images with key words “woman, field” is almost exactly what I described:

It's safe to say that I won’t be writing a short, meaningless post about curing perfectionism in 7 simple steps. I don’t have a cute giggle or any interest in pretending that some BS advice resulted in my perfectly filtered life. I have a loud, unattractive ‘old-man’ laugh (dubbed by a friend); I am a terrible bull-shitter and likely the only thing I would do in a field is get the hell outta there before I discover a dead body, like those Stand by Me kids. 

Okay great. Now that we've cleared that up, my main point is there's no ‘7-stepping’ our way out of this one, my perfectionist friends. The real challenges of perfectionism would take way more than a blog post to untangle. Real-life issues are so much more complex and nuanced than many influencers and diet gurus and motivational speakers want us to believe (because, of course- they want to cash in on selling us The Answer). I can, however, give you a glimpse into my web coming apart and the revelations that came with it.

Here are some key takeaways that I learned about my perfectionism:

-Avoidance is my chamomile tea. Perpetually delaying things calms me down immensely in the moment, and gives me a break from the stress of my own impossible standards. As in my example, I get to hide in my cocoon and dodge any perceived and/or real risks that come with putting yourself out there these days- judgement, rejection, mocking or immature friends lol-ing via voice text (which, btw, was all in good fun, as we banter a lot). Waiting sure takes the edge off, and bonus if it's for reasons "out of my control"! Although some days I very well may lack discipline/feel lazy/unfocused, etc.; remembering that there could also be a deeper purpose behind my behaviour, helps loosen the harsh self-judgements a little.

-Childhood wounds led to the need for exceptionalism…which then led to perfectionism. And now, to the other extreme. Why do I need things to be so perfect? Why can't I just start trying like my friend and pace myself and get better with practice, like others do? Because my emotional survival depended on standing out at some point. I felt invalidated (and even invisible) during some pretty important years- in my main circle of friends who ostracized and ignored me by choosing to speak a language I didn't understand; and somewhat at school and in society from being shy and not so great at small talk. And though my parents were great at a lot of things, instilling a solid sense of self-confidence wasn’t one of them (because of their own confidence issues). So my main source of validation came from gauging external cues; i.e when I won 1st place for drawing the nicest castle in Kindergarten (the fact that I remember this should tell you something), when teachers chose my essays as examples to read in front of the class, when I got attention for my physical appearance, when I won the ‘highest mark in Grade 12 English Advanced’ award and when I was voted best dancer in high school. Anything less = I have no value. Being average at the things I care about stings so much for me. And keeps me from trying a lot. And there's the catch-22: I can't 'get good' at anything because I won't put myself out there and try...and not putting myself out there keeps me at square one and only results in more shitty feelings about myself. (side note- my husband just came to hug and kiss me because he noticed me wiping a few tears while writing this….in case you need convincing that this shit hurts, even decades later. I suppose the 2 days of no sleep and constant coughing doesn’t help- #gerdlife).

-Trauma may have "pulled you a fast one", booboo. Have you heard of "little T"? And no, not the rapper. I mean 'little T', as in 'little trauma'. Trauma is not always a big event or an obvious, one-time occurrence. It can be subtle and cumulative and slip right under your radar…like a viral TikTok video that you REFUSED to watch for months…till your spouse kept playing it around you and it just happened one day when you weren’t paying attention…and next thing you know, you’re a grown-ass, professional person singing “because I’m an Island Boy…I’m just trying to make it” non-stop for 3 weeks straight. Yes- trauma can be as sneaky as that! I was surprised to learn how some past trauma of mine was informing my behaviour today. Things I never recognized as trauma…that I even mistook as a personality trait. “I'm introverted and don’t like being in big groups of people” was really “I don’t feel safe in big groups of people, because of a few asshole kids in my past who ostracized me”. I recently tested this and hung out with a big group of people this summer a few times and I had fun and felt SAFE…because I put in the work and have healed a lot in this regard. You can too, whatever you are dealing with.

-self-sabotage is self-protection. Well sharpen my edges and call me a tool! Turns out I’m not a colossal failure in life. Exhale…what a relief! When my mentor responded to a question of mine with: 'self-sabotage is self-protection', it FINALLY clicked, dammit. Understanding why I do what I do was a game-changer for me. I genuinely believed that I was inherently flawed in some ways and would always be a ‘lost cause’. The harsh self-criticisms and self-judgements almost completely evaporated when I finally, intellectually understood that my body is wired to protect itself from pain, and has come up with its own responses to manage it. Even if those responses seem like completely backwards, bat-shit crazy, non-solutions. This inner wiring would actually have saved my life, back in the day. I think every self-help book on the planet about behaviour and fear uses the 'Sabertooth tiger chasing you' example. Threat detected- amygdala activated- fight or flight or freeze!! It’s just that ‘flight’ now looks like me sitting on my couch eating an Oreo ice cream sandwich and watching reality TV in my spare time…instead of putting effort into what scares me and matters most- building my business. So yeah- kind of hard to remember that I'm also actively dodging threats with my behaviour and excuses…because the closest I’ve come to a tiger from my couch is watching Joe Exotic and Carol Baskin go at it. I mean, don’t get me wrong- it is pretty scary that these types of characters exist out there. It’s just not the same ‘imminent danger to my life’ kind of sitch. 

-All-or-Nothing thinking fuels the fantasy. Binary thinking, a hallmark of perfectionism, is just a circle-back to avoidance for me. And invigorating delays (think ‘diet-starts-Monday-so-YAY-I-can-eat-for-a-small-family-of-four-till-then’ mentality). When I can’t be in the ‘all’, I stay in the ‘nothing’. And nothing is (temporarily) where it’s at. (copy-paste avoidance paragraph here). 

Remember that EPIC crush you had on someone rather elusive (say someone romantically unavailable, your distant superior or an unbeknownst-to-you-at-the-time criminal- pick your poison!) until you got to know them or heard them talk even ONE time?! Like, bubble not burst; bubble freaking OBLITERATED INTO A BILLION PARTICLES AND NOW SPREADING ACROSS THE SEVEN SEAS 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊. And then you had to discreetly suppress the vomit that regularly tried to surface as you questioned how you EVER were attracted to this person. And any real prospects were ignored, like my Dr’s advice to lose weight (she’s just jealous of the junk in my trunk); and you missed opportunities; as all your eggs were put into one bullet-riddled basket. That infatuation bubble kept me in a safe, dreamy state, free of disappointment and possible rejection and oh, yes- actually trying with something as God-awful as dating and putting myself out there. And this was long before Tinder! I would probably fall in love with a statue if I had to be out there and trying these days with all the dating apps (or traps, sounds more like it, from what I saw on Dr. Phil the other day 😱). Anyway, my douchebag crush was the ‘all’ in my scenario; and my lack of flexibility and openness re: other people for several months (ok, since we’re being honest- probably a year. 😏 Okay- 2 years.) was the ‘nothing’. Other options = scary; as other options = must try. 

-your idols might not be that different from you. They might just have more productive stress responsesFor most of my life, I had this terrible habit of comparing myself to extremely successful artists I admired, and feeling flawed and inferior in comparison. Like, regularly. Usually people compete with their peers- not me! I chose A-list celebs and would put them on a pedestal for some reason and feel like a complete failure...no matter what I was achieving in my own life. I guess I chose them because they were sharing their talents and art at a level that I wanted to. But what I too easily overlooked was how they might be dealing with their own stress responses. Another thing I learned in my soul work, is that competition can also be a stress response (it's just a way more productive one!). So, while many accomplished people have developed self-discipline and do have this crazy ambition and impressive drive...all that could have stemmed from (and continues because of) their childhood wounds. Will Smith has referred to witnessing his mother get struck and knocked down by his father as a traumatic, defining moment in his childhood...one that propelled him to do what kept his father satisfied (over-achieve), and what helped him appease his guilt from failing to protect his mother in that moment. That is heartbreaking, and I can totally see how a nine-year old boy would come to those conclusions. 'If I do X, it compensates for Y'. You might be thinking- um, yeah- celebrities have issues- 'no shit, Sherlock'! But I'm telling you, when your thinking has been so automatic for so long, you don't even question if it makes sense anymore. Especially when I'm in my fantasy, binary thinking mode- there has to be an 'all' (perfect celebrity), and a nothing (flawed, imperfect me).  
-it's not all bad. In addition to self-soothing, there were other pros to my perfectionism. Okay, I'ma toot my own horn for a sec- your girl can cook. And not in a 'naturally gifted' kind of way. When I realized I needed to figure this out in life, I went all in (understatement). I was borderline obsessed with the Budgetbytes blog and followed it for years (and still do). Here are some pics from my phone of meals I've made:

My perfectionism made me pursue cooking like it was my life's goal to audition for Hell's Kitchen. It had me making homemade Naan bread on a random Sunday night 🤭 I don't even realize while it's happening, but my thinking is- if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right. And my definition of 'right' is Excellence. Same with cleaning! Believe me when I tell you I can clean a bathroom with a level of skill that could turn anyone on. Heck, I cleaned it so well the other day, I almost turned myself on! 😄 Why am I so good at it? Because in the last year or so I took on the bathroom cleaning at home, to help my husband, who often works late...and I did the same thing- studied and repeatedly watched several 'clean my space' videos and now I make all the homemade cleaning products and have transitioned our way out of toxic cleaning chemicals. And bonus- I even learned about a silicone toilet brush that does the trick and is way less disgusting! I even put together a cleaning caddy and all, to help with efficiency.


So, as much as I have maybe 'failed' at many of the things I care about (for now), I still freaking nailed it in other areas. I just tend to forget about those areas.

A Failed Leprechaun Will Do

As it stands, my Headache Nutritionist friend has 5,208 followers on Instagram, has made significant headway with her practise and is right on track with the lip-synching reels trend that is rampant all over social media rn.

Our situations are very different- she has not had to work somewhere else while she pursued this for years; and has had the means to get a lot of support through expensive business training programs. I have had a full time govt job this whole time and am not in the position (now, anyway) to leave that and focus solely on my business. That makes a huge difference. Proof being- the momentum I had with creating and putting my stuff out there consistently was when I was ‘off with pay’ for 3 glorious months due to covid. I had the time and energy and funds still coming in. 

So I can’t exactly compare; but I can still say with absolute certainty that, had I continued to execute small, imperfect steps like she did, it would have taken me A LOT further than where I am now (108 Instagram followers and not a reel in sight). Joke was on me, in the end! I started overthinking everything, got lost in the details (example: changed my logo, then changed it back; wasting time, energy, paper and money), was trying to manage my anxiety with perfectionism…and stayed idle accordingly. So what limited time I had, would go to fixing self-created problems…till I just gave up.

On March 17th of last year, I was pleasantly surprised by a green, whimsical character who showed up at my door, flowers and treats in hand. It was my Nutritionist friend, stopping by for my birthday. I pointed out that her makeshift costume was more a mix of Peter Pan with a fairy (she had brought a wand), instead of a leprechaun. ''Leprechauns wear top hats, silly!'', I said, amused. “Oh yeahhhh”, she replied as she chuckled, genuinely not realizing how ‘off’ she was with her costume. Which proves my point exactly- she still grasped the concept of St-Patty’s day, nailed the green, and most importantly- managed to execute her main goal in all of that: to be a thoughtful friend on my birthday. 

And 2+ years post Magnesium tutorial video, I’m not kidding- I had still remembered 3 out of the 5 items. It would have been 4, had I not remembered chia seeds instead of hemp seeds. So, all hilarious imperfections aside, the tutorial video served its purpose.

Here is my dear friend, who I am so proud of; and least of all, for her business accomplishments. I'm most proud of the courage and vulnerability she has shown in facing all that she has (her story is an inspiring one and worth reading):

The Headache Nutritionist 

She still does hilarious, imperfect things; like puts the middle finger emoji by accident on a post, instead of this one: 👆. And when I inform her, she simply laughs it off and doesn't bother changing it. I can learn so much from her!

Rice Bran be Damned

So yeah, that's part of where I've been for a hot minute. Or like, over a year and a half (but who's counting, right!?)

If you can relate to anything on my list of takeaways, let’s pause for a telepathic hug…


…ok let's stop hugging now, as we've passed the appropriate hug time before it turns creepy/awkward. 

You don't need to tell me you've been through a lot and are likely carrying burdens no one knows about. Perfectionism is lonely. And the shame that comes with it is enough to swallow you whole on some days.

I am still on my ‘perfectionist rehab’ journey; and I look forward to sharing more insights as I go. I could not more strongly recommend getting support, if this is something you struggle with. I would still be up to my old ways and trying to manage my overwhelmingly crappy feelings, had I not invested in myself. I found support and healed a lot through the following (life-changing 🙌) program: alishapiro.com/truce-with-food-the-group-experience. But finding the support that's right for you could be something else entirely. There are also a lot of free podcasts out there and books and social media groups that can help you gain insight on you behaviour, if investing financially is not an option right now.

In the meantime, I can suggest one thing you can do immediately: find a way to start practising sincere, genuine-ass self-compassion. I know that might sound cliche and very unexciting. Because it is- real advice is so much less glittery and thrilling than Influencer advice. But I am proof that your feelings of safety in this world can change so much, once your inner world is more supportive, understanding and compassionate! And ‘genuine-ass’ is my eloquent way of saying skip the 'positive affirmations' crap if it doesn’t ring sincere for you. No need to try and 'Stuart Smiley' your way out of this...because if you're like me, it will backfire! At the very least, understanding that you are not fundamentally flawed and your body is almost too smart for its own good sometimes is a start. Evolution takes time, baby! Perhaps someday our stress responses will lead us right into the loving arms of the exact life we want...without all the drama.

I will continue to pace myself and take notes as I move forward…and, imperfectly so. 

It's good to be back. It's perfect, actually.

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