A Wish Come Clear

Choosing Love, Losing Fear, & Finding Home

Fellow Perfectionists, Come See Me

Recently, I received a message from the moderator of a Facebook group of which I am a member. It read: “Caroline McGraw, please inbox me…I need to ask you something.”

There was a plummeting, zooming feeling in my stomach. I clicked away, thinking: This isn’t the first time I’ve felt that the ax is about to fall.

***

All at once, I was back in first grade. My teacher – I’ll call her Mrs. Summers – had just returned our assignments. I was a good student, accustomed to seeing “Excellent!” atop my worksheets. But this particular paper had See Me written in red ink. Dear God in heaven. What had I done?

Scary, right?!

See Me meant lining up beside Mrs. Summers’ desk and waiting my turn to talk to her privately … in front of everyone. For a shy, introverted girl like me, this was not a good system. In fact, it was a fate worse than death.

I’d never had a See Me before, and I thought it meant that one had Royally. Screwed. Up. My neurotic six-year-old self could not handle it, nor could she hide that she could not handle it. (I have never been good at hiding my emotions. I have what a former boyfriend of Liz Gilbert’s refers to in Eat, Pray, Love as, “ … the opposite of poker face … miniature golf face.”)

When it was my turn, Mrs. Summers took one look at me and said, “Caroline, dear, what’s wrong?”

I handed her the paper and waited for the death blow. It’s possible that I was crying at that point; I’m not sure. But what happened next is very clear in my memory: Mrs. Summers said that she’d written See Me on my paper because I’d done a really great job, and she wanted to tell me so in person.

A tidal wave of relief swept through me. “Really?” I squeaked. She gave me a hug.

Oh, and that Facebook message I mentioned earlier? Turns out, the moderator wanted to affirm my work and invite me to speak at an event. All that fear. All that worry. All for nothing.

***

Running into the waves, Lido de Jesolo

Have you ever had this happen to you? Have you ever walked around waiting for the ax to fall, only to find that it was never really there?

If so, then you know the feeling that rushes over you when you realize your mistake: it’s the purest kind of relief. It tastes like liberation, like running headlong into the ocean with your friends at your side.

And with that relief comes the realization that even if what you dread DOES happen – even if you DO get called out or criticized – it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t define you. You’re not your perfect grades or sublime Facebook record.

You’re more than that. Much, much more. So you get to take a pass on being terrified of imperfection. You get to forgo freaking out when you make a mistake. You get to be free.

***

Sometimes I wonder what it might be like to meet Love (or God, if you prefer) face-to-face. In my imagination, She hands me a paper magically detailing my entire life story. But there’s no grade on it; instead, two old, familiar words top the page: See Me.

Though I receive this paper with trembling hands, I’m not afraid anymore. Because in Love’s presence, See Me doesn’t look like a condemnation. Instead – how could I not have seen this before? – it’s an invitation.

See Me, and see that I’m so glad to see you. Always have been, always will be.

See Me, and see that where you feared judgment, you’ve found only mercy.

See Me, and see yourself as I see you

Perfectly.

***

Do you struggle with perfectionism? Join the conversation in the comments!

***

Our free offering has grown to include a second digital book! Receive posts via email, along with both Your Creed of Care: How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive) AND Love’s Subversive Stance: Ground Yourself & Grow in Relationship. [Click to Tweet.]

Share Button

About Caroline McGraw

I'm a would-be childhood paleontologist and recovering perfectionist turned full-time writer, digging for treasure in people and uncovering sacred stories in ordinary days. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Don’t Miss Out! Receive Posts & 2 Free Ebooks Too:

15 Replies

  1. This resonated so much with me! Whenever someone says they want to see me, without telling me why I think the worst. I think, I must have done something wrong, even though usually it is not negative. I am working on not worrying and just going with the flow, knowing that it will all turn out okay in the end! (Good and bad, life will be okay).

    1. You and me both, J! So glad the post resonated with you. :)

  2. Kat

    it’s taken me years to get this message. as a result, when I leave a message for someone, I like to say what it’s about, in case they do the same! calls get returned much faster, I’ve noticed. Good article

    1. What a good idea, Kat — I’m sure people appreciate it! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I’m such a perfectionist. It certainly is something that I’ve been dealing with all my life so I relate to your post. I’m working on being free and most of the time I can let it pass…but…

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. :-)

    1. You’re most welcome, Joanne! And I agree — it IS good to know we’re not alone in dealing with perfectionism. Solidarity, sister! ;)

  4. Maryann

    I wish that I can be called by my “best friend” to come and say “see me” because it has been 2 years since we have talked. I don’t even know why she won’t talk to me and I have tried numerous times to reach out to her to find out why and she won’t answer me. I am so devastated by this! We have been friends for 13 years before this happened and I cry every time I think about it. I miss her so very much and she was my only close girlfriend that I had.

    I will wait anxiously, though, for the day when my Lord will call me home and into His loving arms!!

    Thanks for your posts. I really enjoy them! God bless you Caroline. <3

    1. Maryann, I’m so sorry to hear about the separation between you and your best friend — I can imagine that being really tough. Sending love and light your way, and so glad you enjoy the posts! Blessings right back. <3

  5. Caroline, I used the ‘p’ word (perfectionist) a few hours ago, with a fellow blogger who is doing a guest post for my blog.

    Your post is so timely it is almost magical/miraculous … . There are no coincidences; this is a reminder.
    Thankfully I’m learning to allow the ‘perfectionist’ to have its say as I simply carry on. The voice is fading and all is turning out really well.

    An enjoyable and t profound post … thanks for sharing!

    1. Kathy, I’m so glad the post proved timely and helpful for you in your journey! And I really like that image of letting the perfectionist rant and then just doing your thing. :) Way to go!

  6. Side note:
    The perfectionist noticed the misplaced ‘t’ in my last comment and I did not have a melt-down. :)

  7. Lauren S.

    Yes! When my dear friend called to ask if we could “Talk” in person, my heart sank to my toes. Even though I logically was almost SURE he was actually going to ask me out. My logic was right. Now that we’re married, we both laugh at how stressed that simple request made me.

    1. :) How sweet! Thanks for sharing, Lauren — glad that your story had a happy ending as well.