An Open Letter Challenging The Voice of Perfectionism


An Open Letter Challenging The Voice of Perfectionism Miami Moms Blog Bethany Pappas

If you struggle with perfectionism, this open letter is for you. 

Dear Type A Perfectionism: It’s You, Not Me.

We’ve had a good run, but it’s time for me to move on.  Here’s the thing—you drive me to be better, but you’re never along for the ride. 

I remember our first conversation.  I was 7, and you were—in a kind word—mean.  As I stared in the mirror of my first ballet class, you whispered, “you’re never going to be good at this.”  You said even meaner things about my body.  I was tall, and they were small.  I was muscular, and they were dainty.  As you can imagine, that was both my first and my last ballet class. 

As a second grader, I began to see opportunities only through your critical eyes.  My interests in art, friendships, music, and piano quickly faded as your voice persuaded me that I wasn’t good enough.   

In middle school, I mustered up the courage to audition for the choir.  I was told I could sing.  Steered by your voice, I never fully pursued that dream either.  

Children often lose interest in hobbies, instruments, sports, and beautiful dreams.  Though this may be normal, I wonder how many young minds are influenced by unhealthy comparison—that is, by perfectionism. 

The voice of perfectionism says if you can’t be the best, then don’t try.  More commonly, it leads to an insatiable drive that cultivates things like addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, isolation, low self-esteem, and procrastination. 

Over the years, I’ve learned that the perfectionism in my life rests on three equally unpleasant pillars: insecurity, people-pleasing, and pride. 

As a friend, I shy away from friendships when I feel the slightest hint of rejection. 

As a student, I obsess over good grades and exceeding expectations. 

As a professional, I work to the point of exhaustion while perpetually questioning my abilities. 

As a woman, I entertain endless comparisons of beauty and success.   

As a mom, I am never enough.

After 30-something years, I’m beginning to see that this is no way to live.  For one, I’m gently reminded that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  More importantly, I recognize that we all fall short (Romans 3:23).         

Surprisingly, becoming a parent has also tempered my Type A voice.  As the focus of my perfectionism shifted from myself to my son, I began to see it for what it is—a lie.  Two weeks after he was born, I received invaluable advice that “I was uniquely chosen to be his mom.”  Sure, messy mornings, dirty dishes, and impatient outbursts are a given.  My closets and personal style have seen better days.  But setting parenting books and Dr. Google aside, I now know that there is no *right* way to be a mom. 

Parenting is hard.  It’s imperfect. 

For the past three years, that realization has slowly chipped away at the impossible standards that previously set the tone for my life.  In his precious voice, my son regularly reminds me to “take a relax.”  He’s right.  Perfectionism has interfered with my health, joy, and productivity for far too long.      

So, Type A, I’m ready to let you go. 

Why?  Because though I often can do better, I need to be okay with doing my best. 

Of course I’ll continue to employ the lessons I’ve learned from you about ambition, diligence, and hard work.  But you will no longer convince me that I’m not enough.  

If you can relate, I hope you’ll join me by quieting your perfectionist voice.  The next time it says “no” to an opportunity, say yes.  Then, approach that opportunity with great alacrity.  


  1. As a Virgo AND the oldest of 3 children AND the only daughter AND my father was a career Marine drill sergeant…… THIS RESONATES WITH ME SO MUCH!!!!!
    Being older and wiser has helped me accept “my best” but sometimes perfectionism halts me in my tracks, even still.
    Beautiful article Bethany… thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you Candice! Yes, all of those things would certainly lead to this challenge in your life!
    When I started this, I thought about the one message I’d like to share with other moms. This is it.

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