Part of my perfectionism manifests as People-Pleasing: habitually ignoring or bending my needs in order to fulfill the needs of others.

This has become problematic for me in that over time my sense of self-worth has become attached to how well I’m fulfilling the needs of others.

My perfectionism is both mine to own, and did not emerge from a vacuum. Our culture creates excellent conditions for perfectionism to thrive.

I began to see perfectionism as a negative, something to be weeded out, something I had to get rid of, because of the ways in which it’s been harming me.

But in shaming this part of myself I began to shame me. I am a Perfectionist, Perfectionism is bad, therefore I am bad.

Not particularly helpful for building self-compassion.

So I began to explore the idea that I could Queer my Perfectionism:

When I use ‘queer’ as a verb, I’m dancing with the ideas of Sara Ahmed, who uses the metaphor of lines and directionality to explore how ideas, cultural artefacts, and people ‘become queer’ when they veer away from normative, habitual, ‘straight’ paths. (she also explores the opposite: how these things can also ‘become straight’, but that’s for a future chat…)

So: I’m an excellent People-Pleaser. Driven to help, support, and nurture others, even to the detriment of my well-being.

People-Pleasing could arguably be seen as a habitual path that is upheld by our cultural values, and therefore gets reinforced as normative.

To veer away from this path, even to loop the path completely in the other direction — might this follow Ahmed’s metaphor of ‘queering’ a straight, normative pathway?

In other words: Would it be possible to People-Please myself?

This feels risky. Selfish. I’ll stop caring about others if I focus on fulfilling my needs, right?

But that is Scarcity talking. That’s actually Perfectionism talking, who wants me to believe that there’s not enough love for me and for everyone else. That I can either love myself or I can give love to others but I can’t have both.

This voice is familiar and therefore feels reasonable to listen to. It’s familiar because it’s the voice of our capitalistic, binary, hierarchical systems which insist that in order for me to win someone else has to lose.

The path can’t run both ways…or all the ways…can it?

Queering my Perfectionism might mean that there is plenty of love for all, in every direction.

And if there is plenty of love, including for myself, then I can finally stop hustling for self-worth, and give my love from a place of abundance.

Queering my Perfectionism might mean embracing this flawed part of myself in order to subvert normative expectations of self-love.

And trusting that there is enough.

That I am enough.

And that when I stop hustling and rest in my own self-love, I actually have more energy to give love to others.

Happy Pride month, y’all. <3