I’ve always been a perfectionist. In first grade, I cried when I missed my first point on a spelling test because I forgot that pesky extra l in baseball. One of my friends tried to assure me that my grade was a good one, but I wasn’t convinced.
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my Uncle J, who has type 1 diabetes himself, warned me that dealing with this disease can be especially frustrating for perfectionists. You do the best you can to manage your blood sugar levels, but the numbers on the meter will never be perfect. I knew he was giving me sound advice, but it’s one thing to agree with advice and another thing entirely to live it.
It’s not like I feel like a failure when I check my sugar and it’s higher or lower than I would like it. I feel the same sense of warped frustration I experience when I hope for an A on a project and I get a B. I know the B is a good grade; I know I should be happy with my grade. I just want an A.
I’ve also began discovering odd, unacknowledged goals I’ve set for myself. My blood sugar should never ever go higher than it was the day I was diagnosed. My fasting blood sugar should be under 120. My meter average is “supposed” to be 100.
Most often, however, my perfectionism takes subtler forms. I know I can’t manage my diabetes perfectly, so I want to be perfectly imperfect. My blood sugar numbers won’t always be in range, so I want to react to those numbers perfectly. But my emotions aren’t going to be perfect either.
Acknowledging my perfectionism won’t make it go away. Writing a blog post about it won’t make it go away. But there’s something I want to tell myself anyway.
You have nothing to prove.
You don’t need to be a superhero. Some days your numbers won’t be what you want them to be. Some days you’ll feel completely out of control even though the numbers look fine. Some days you’ll feel completely out of control and the numbers won’t look fine. Some days you’ll make mistakes. Some days you’ll be sad for no good reason. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. You don’t need to be perfect. Just consistent, humble, and willing to learn.