For years, I struggled with trying to be “perfect”.

Moving to the south, newly single, and with a desire to start a business, I struggled with what it would look like being a Black female business owner.

Questions I pondered were:

  • What makes you qualified to start a business?
  • How should I wear my hair, natural or relaxed?
  • How should I dress?
  • How should I speak? Should I sound more like a Caucasian person or should I just speak in my natural dialect (whatever that is…)? 

I thought being perfect was the catalyst to me appearing successful and people wanting to buy from me. When asked questions, I tried to answer according to what I thought the person wanted to hear. I struggled with this for years until someone asked me a question they knew the answer to but wanted to see how I would respond.

A student’s mother—Caucasian, mid-50s, and rich, asked me if I was the owner of the business. I didn’t want to answer yes as I thought my agreeing would influence her decision to allow her daughter to enroll. She had her platinum AMX credit card, ready to pay in full, and was awaiting my response.

I answered yes after trying to be evasive. After answering her question, she alluded to the fact that she already knew the answer but was just looking to see how I would respond. Essentially, she was testing me. 

I learned a valuable lesson. People have the ability to see. We are the ones who are trying to cover up according to our comfort level. The mom already knew when she walked through the doors of my business that she was going to pay her daughter’s tuition in full. She had already researched me, she just needed to see how I would respond. 

That moment was a turning point for me. I decided I would make it a daily habit to practice showing up being authentically me! It was liberating and refreshing!

Trying to be perfect for me, other people, and for mere appearances is OVERRATED! I took that need to be perfect into my marriage and nearly drove myself and my spouse crazy. He didn’t require nearly as much as I was trying to give and portray. 

When I decided to give myself grace, this grace was able to spill over to him and others. I became easier to be around and people weren’t walking on eggshells around me. Now, don’t get it wrong, I still lead by love and accountability, and require excellence. I just give people (and myself Grace) while striving for perfection. 

Friends, you have no idea how many people are waiting for you to show up being authentically you. 

What areas do you struggle in as it relates to perfectionism?