The Art of Being Perfect


Last week, I sat down to write this blog post. But guess what? When you are writing a post about being perfect, you want it to be… perfect. I read it. I edited it. I read it some more. And then I finally deleted it. It was like my need for perfection kicked into overdrive simply because I was writing about it.

It is a true sickness.

True confession time. Here are some of the ridiculous things I have done or do in my efforts to maintain a state of perfection:

1. A couple weeks ago, at the last minute, I offered to bring a dessert to my small group when I found out no one was bringing one. I do love some dessert. I could have quickly picked something up from the Publix bakery, but no… In 55 minutes, I left my gym, went grocery shopping, came home, cut up 3 pounds of strawberries, made homemade whipped cream, lovingly displayed strawberry shortcake for 18 on my finest party ware, took a shower, fixed myself up, and arrived at our meeting only two minutes late. I am still trying to recover.

2. I once went an entire year without buying clothes because I did not know how to age-appropriately dress myself. I was concerned someone might mistake me for a “cougar.” I now go to a department store twice a year where my personal shopper picks everything out for me. Everything. And it is common for this personal shopper to receive emergency texts from me asking what shoes I should wear with an outfit. #firstworldproblems #itsafreeservice #fashion911

3. I have a fear of cooking and dropping off a meal for a family in need. Want to know why? It’s not because I am a bad cook. It’s because I imagine said family sitting around the dinner table commenting on how terrible my meal tastes. If you’ve ever received a meal from me that you did not eat in my presence, consider yourself loved.

I am well aware that I have a special kind of insanity, and it is not something I am proud of. And so the other day, I was literally brought to a standstill when I read this quote from Donald Miller’s excellent book, Scary Close:

“…those of us who are never satisfied with our accomplishments secretly believe nobody will love us unless we’re perfect.” 

-Donald Miller, Scary Close

If this quote resonates with you, then you are probably one of the gazillion who also suffers with Everything-Must-Be-Perfect Syndrome. It describes me perfectly.

I have never taken a lot of pride in my achievements and often convince myself an accomplishment wasn’t that great or I didn’t deserve it. Sometimes I even think I may have just gotten lucky. A perfect example is the full scholarship I received to go to law school. I told myself that it must have been because the school needed to increase female enrollment. It couldn’t possibly have been based on my merits.

It is rare that I sit back, pat myself on the back, and say, “Job well done, Shelby.” Which kind of stinks. And I have never really understood why I was this way.

I now realize this is tied to my feelings of not being “good enough” which I try to hide by being perfect. Now why do I have these feelings of inadequacy? Well, that’s a whole other blog post!

But in my mind, I think that if I am perfect, you won’t notice that I am not good enough. If I am perfect, you will like me. Just typing this makes me realize how ludicrous it sounds. Because honestly- nobody likes Little Miss Perfect!

It is incredible when you do a little soul-searching like this, acknowledging your faults and trying to correct them. It is like a tremendous burden being lifted off your shoulders- one you may not have realized you had been carrying for a long time.

It is exhausting trying to be perfect. I worked hard at it over the years. I am certain I kept a lot of people at arm’s length so they wouldn’t find out the deep, dark truth about me- I am not really perfect. I know I missed out on some good friendships because of this.

So if you see me out and about with mismatched earrings on, an entirely inappropriate v-neck sweater in need of a camisole, and my keys locked in my car- which is exactly what you would have seen last week at church- please know that I am just trying to show you who I really am. Me and all my imperfections.

If you have trouble letting people get close to you, I highly recommend Donald Miller’s Scary Close. You can find it at bookstores or online at Amazon. He also has an awesome blog at:



2 thoughts on “The Art of Being Perfect

  1. Shel!! I smiled the entire time I was reading this. I predicted several paragraphs before I even read them! In particular the ones about the personal shopper & your law school scholarship! LOL! I guess I know you pretty well. The word I would use to describe is a “go-getter”, not a perfectionist.


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