Hi, my name is Carrie and I’m a survivor of Rampant Perfectionist Syndrome (RPS). This is a disease millions of women face, and has been on the increase ever since we were ‘liberated’ to enjoy full-time careers and full-time motherhood (at the same time), in an era where ultra-lean, muscular physiques became a requirement and where social media exploded to help us understand just how important an immaculate home, creative décor, crafty DIY everything, glamorous vacations, perfect relationships, funny friends, and impeccably behaved children really were.
RPS has been on the rise for decades. I thought my generation had it bad, as we were really the first who truly inherited a legacy of pursuing a lucrative and meaningful career while also feeling obligated to have children and provide a full-time loving, stimulating, nurturing environment for them. I thought that was bad enough, but at least we didn’t need to do all this under the watchful eye of millions of ‘friends’, ready to helpfully point out everything we were doing wrong, all the things we were doing to ruin our kids, and all the ways our careers, finances, and relationships could be better – and that we, in fact, DESERVED better, in case we didn’t know. Because I was busy sabotaging my life in my twenties and early thirties, I didn’t have kids when the rest of my age-peers did, and am raising kids at the time when a lot of my generation is starting on grand kids, which means I get to enjoy the pressure a second time around, in a sense.
RPS subtly and savagely steals our joy by encouraging us to buy into these myths that we should be doing all things 100% well. Read that sentence again. It says ALL things. Yes ladies. If social media, and our culture in general, are to be believed, we must be upwardly mobile career moguls, financially savvy, lean and toned, dedicated parents, engaging spouses, supportive friends, organic bakers, thrifty crafters, and good neighbors. There’s more, but I honestly lost track back when I very nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to do all this. Oh, you didn’t know that? Of course you didn’t.
One of the more pernicious side effects of RPS is the tendency for sufferers to mask their disease with a veneer of world weary cynicism, sarcasm, or simply a flat refusal to let anyone see that they’re drowning in fear, discouragement, and disappointment that having it all is so overwhelmingly HARD.
Luckily, there is a cure! Because RPS is a socially transmitted disease, it can’t be completely eradicated, but it can be effectively managed by following the daily prescription:
- Upon waking, engage in at least ten minutes of gratitude and prayer/meditation before checking any sort of social media.
- Follow this with 45-60 minutes of vigorous strength training/high intensity exercise as many days as you can.
- Partake in a comparison fast. This is where you refrain from comparing yourself to any person – real, imaginary, or media sensation. Just don’t.
- Give yourself permission to have your own priorities. This means if you don’t want to make organic baby food, you don’t. If this stresses you out, see point number 3.
- Talk with other, real people, about how you’re doing. Nothing chases shame and guilt away faster than truth and authenticity. You don’t need a whole crowd of people to do this with. Just one other mom buddy will help. And technology is actually on our side here, because you can text, IM, phone, or interact with your friends in an awesome online community in addition to – gasp – actually talking in person.
- Laugh at yourself, and laugh at the absurdity of the expectations.
- Lather, rinse, repeat.
This is guaranteed to keep RPS at bay for another day.
I want to hear from you. What do you do to keep the insanity of the expectations on you at bay? Please send in your comments, memes, or gifs showing me your RPS coping strategy.
PS I’ve written, 10 tips on dealing with multiple (conflicting) priorities. If you’d like a free copy, just click here!