To my kid with perfectionist tendencies:

I get you. I’ve spent much of my life leaning toward the type A column. It has served me well for the most part, but I have a few words of wisdom for you. Lessons I’ve learned.

Here are the things I want for you:

DO HARD THINGS. You won’t want to. You like for things to be neat and tidy. You like to succeed when you try something. When you do hard things it’ll get messy. You’ll screw up. You’ll embarrass yourself. You’ll get mad. Do it anyway. It’s good for you. It’s humbling. It’s faith building.

KEEP YOUR HEART TENDER. This will be especially challenging when you do hard things, because hard things usually require you to be strong. You’ll be tempted to put on a tough exterior so people won’t know you’re struggling or hurting. Fight that urge. Let your heart be broken sometimes. That has to happen occasionally to keep it soft.

DON’T PUT YOUR VALUE IN YOUR SUCCESSES. You work hard and push yourself. That is fantastic! But sometimes you’re going to fail. You just will. That doesn’t mean that YOU are a failure. Your worth isn’t measured by your grades, your GPA, your weight, or your bank account. Deep in your very soul, know what really matters.

GIVE OTHERS A BREAK. You expect a lot of yourself and as a byproduct you will likely expect a lot of others. Don’t. They have their own stuff and their own strengths. Cut them some slack. One time I was trying to explain why I expected so much of others. I blamed it on my “type a-ness”. In print it’s pretty obvious what I mean but in the spoken word it sounded like “type anus”. A funny reminder that our tendencies can make us act like butts sometimes. Don’t be a butt.

AVOID COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. It’s an exhausting game. I can (almost) promise that there will always be someone who is better or more spiritual or more patient or faster or richer than you. Learn to celebrate the accomplishments of others. Be inspired by them but never jealous. Jealousy is ugly.

BE YOU. You are weird sometimes. So am I. It’s ok. Be different because “same” is boring. You don’t have to parade your quirks but you don’t have to cover them up. YOU are such an amazingly magnificent person. Why on earth would you try to be anything else?

With all my love, Mom

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