My Story

Hi, my name is Emily. I’m in my 20s, I’m growing up, and I’m learning what that entails one day at a time. Overcoming perfectionism, enjoying life: this is my story.

For most of my life I have been hard on myself- grades, body image, social life- you name it. Eager to please, I am often afraid of what other people will think of me if I make a mistake, if I don’t follow the crowd, or if I don’t live up to what is expected of me, whatever that may be. I began my college career in the fall of 2006 at Purdue University. I struggled with the abrupt change from high school to college.

Senior prom with friends, May 2006

Boiler Gold Rush, Freshmen Orientation, August 2006

As a naturally introverted person, it was difficult for me to break out of my shell; I quickly became obsessed with what I knew I could control, eating right and exercising, as well as studying for hours on end. Over the course of my freshmen year, I became depressed. I called my parents and sisters crying, nearly every night; I wondered what I was doing there. I went away to a big state school because I thought that was what “I was supposed to do.” I was afraid of what other people would think of me if I did otherwise. Everyone tells you that college will be “the time of your life.” So what was I supposed to do when it didn’t feel that way for me?

By February 2007, I knew I had to make a change. While finishing out the year at Purdue, I began looking at other schools, and decided on Marian College, now Marian University, a small private school more suited to my needs. While at Marian, I joined the dance team, quickly made friends, and enjoyed my classes.

Riley Hospital Dance Marathon @ Marian, April 2008

The small school was fitting to my personality, and although I was reaping the social benefits, by the end of my sophomore year, I still wasn’t sure what my education or career goals were. For my junior year, I was offered an RA position in the dorms, and a spot on the dance team for another year. Many people would be happy, but I felt trapped. I was confused and unhappy with my life, and the pressure from friends, family, and even myself, was driving me crazy. It was then that I made one of the hardest decisions I had ever had to make. I decided to take a semester off.

I needed a break from the pressure, from the demands of school. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, and I felt that continuing down the same path wouldn’t make things better. As I signed those papers to withdraw from Marian, I felt relief and failure all at once. Although my parents and sisters supported me greatly during this time, after I left school, many people told me I would never go back. This was one of the hardest things to hear from some of the family and friends whom I felt closest to. At a time when I felt people had little faith in me, I knew I had to find faith and hope within myself.

Playing guitar, and baking, were my outlets during stressful times

 

Somewhere deep inside, I knew I needed to be writing, something I’ve always enjoyed. I contacted the editor of a weekly newspaper in Indianapolis, and he agreed to take me on as an Editorial Intern. No pay, no college credit, just experience. I was ecstatic at the offer. During the fall of 2008 I learned more about myself than I ever had before. I stopped looking outward for reassurance, and I began believing in myself. I surrendered to God, to fate, and I stopped trying to control my future.

Summer 2008- I cut 9 1/2 inches off of my hair and donated it to Locks of Love. For me, this literally and figuratively symbolized letting go of the weight I was carrying.

By December of 2008, I applied to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, a large university in the heart of Indianapolis. I decided that I would live with my family in the suburbs and commute to my classes in the city, as I wanted the support of family and the comfort of home close by. At this time, my love life also took a turn for the better. It’s true what “they” say, you need to love yourself before anyone else can fall in love with you. After being single for most of my college career, on January 1, 2009 I took another leap of faith and went on a blind date; taking that risk paid off. Not too long after, he was “officially” my boyfriend, and we’re still going strong. Jordan and I on Mother’s Day, May 2010

Over time, I learned that letting go of perfection is more than being okay with a B on an exam or a bad hair day. It is about figuring out the root of the problem, looking for confidence and assurance within yourself, and being comfortable in your own skin. After taking a semester off of school, after taking some time to reflect, my path in life began to fall into place.

I recently graduated with my B.A. in Communication Studies. I’m pursuing a career in writing, figuring out how this “growing up thing” works, and in the midst of everything, letting go of the need to be perfect…because being “perfect” does not mean being happy.

Through this blog, I am capturing my moments of weakness, my moments where perfection still gets in the way, as well as the accomplishments and new adventures that growing up encompasses. I hope that many of you can relate, learn from, and enjoy this journey with me. Thank you for reading!

56 Responses to “My Story”

  1. thebalancebroad January 22, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Yay, another Hoosier blogger! 🙂

    Wow…I am just amazed and in awe of your story. You know, I felt almost the EXACT same was as you, when I was a freshman at IU. I felt strangely alone on such a HUGE campus. But that’s what I was “supposed” to do, right? I thought about moving back home (to Indy) 100 times, but I never had the courage to do it. I graduated with a degree that….I’m not even using right now. 🙂 So the moral of this long story is: you did EXACTLY the right thing. I can’t imagine the courage it took to take time off, and switch schools. But you, unlike SO many college grads, are actually going to end up doing something you love!

    • perfectionisnthappy January 23, 2011 at 8:16 am #

      Thank you :). It was very difficult to put my stubborn, “perfectionist” personality aside for a few moments and admit to myself that something was wrong. I think a lot of college students have feelings of doubt at school, but no one really talks about those feelings, or that’s it’s okay to take a different path. (In my opinion) it’s a little ridiculous that we have to pick what we want to do for the rest of our lives when we’re 17 or 18 anyway.

  2. Amy January 23, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Hey fellow Hoosier!
    I find you story so beautiful and touching. I go to IU and understand how easy it is to get lost in a huge crowd! Life is about creating a balance that works for you…there is no right and wrong. Congratulations on you decision and I can’t wait to start following your blog!

    • perfectionisnthappy January 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

      Thank you! I love IU’s campus! I hope that you’re enjoying the start of this semester!

  3. Nicole @ Of Cookies & Carrots February 1, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    This is a beautiful story, thank you so much for sharing it! I’m also a perfectionist, kind of working myself into insanity recently… last quarter was not pretty :/

    So it’s very inspiring to read your story, and I look forward to reading more! 🙂

    • perfectionisnthappy February 1, 2011 at 8:12 am #

      Thank you for stopping by! Don’t be so hard on yourself this quarter (easier said than done, I know).

      • Nicole @ Of Cookies & Carrots February 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

        I’ve actually been somewhat successful… Almost leaning towards too much apathy!

        But thank you 🙂

  4. perfectionisnthappy February 4, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I’ve been the same way (I need to get more motivated!)…haha

  5. Sonia @ Master of Her Romaine February 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    Hi! I just found your blog- thank you so much for sharing your story! I am really looking forward to reading more 🙂

  6. TheSceneFromMe February 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    I too am a fellow Hoosier blogger, nice to meet you friend!
    I live in a NE suburb of the city. I am over the snow and can’t wait for spring AMEN!
    Your “letting go of perfection” hits close to home for me. It’s a struggle to keep up a facade of being perfect to everyone else because that’s what they think of you, when inside you are struggling.
    Love your story and good for you for making a tough, but right decision!

  7. Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] April 10, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    I can relate to your story in so so many ways. Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. Mel (mmmstories) June 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    I definitely remember after the novelty of college wore off – about 6 weeks into freshman year – I was hit with the hard reality that I was in a strange place, with no one I really knew or could trust. I’ve talked to a lot of younger kids who went through similar confusions and always try and reassure them that it’s normal – just no one ever warns you about it! Eventually it all works out for everyone – college wound up being an amazing 4 years. I’m glad you found your happy place!

  9. Scarlett June 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Emily, I love your blog! I am also a 20-something trying not to be such a perfectionist, and I was also an RA in college…though I went to IU, so the percentage of you that feels tied to the Boilermakers should probably resent me. 😉

    • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy June 20, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      Haha, no resentment here…I ended up graduating from the IU part of IUPUI, so I kind of have to favor both schools 🙂

  10. notsodomesticated July 17, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    I absolutely agree with what you said… you need to love yourself first. Knowing who you are and accepting yourself is the first step to happiness. Then you can be free to love someone else completely. 🙂

    Love this page!

  11. Melissa July 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Love your story!! And I’m learning to love myself before I can move forward to be in love with anyone! Your blog name is amazingly on the spot. loving your blog!!

  12. thisthatandtheotherthang July 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    LOVE your blog hun! Keep doing your thang 🙂
    Wendi

  13. Danielle Spellman @ Squirrel Snackin' August 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Love your story! We have a lot in common! Yay for being recent graduates..with B.A.’s in communications!! 🙂

  14. GOtheXtraMile August 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    I just found your blog, and I love it! you have an amazing story, glad I discovered it 🙂

  15. amj08e August 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    loved reading your blog! you are an amazing writer but I am sure I am not the first to tell you! perfectionism is not something easy to overcome especially when so many don’t understand the demands it can put on one. it is really inspriring to hear of a young girl who is finding her life in her own terms! looking forward to keep reading your blog!

  16. sweetmarcella September 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    I found your blog from a comment of ELR and I am just starting blogging. I’m from Indiana too and its so great to see hoosiers in the blog world! I love your story and it speaks greatly to me, except I never made the leap and stayed at my college. I did find my fiance at that school though, so I can’t be too angry.

    Good luck with everything!

  17. spectacuLAUR October 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    I’ve struggled my entire college career, as well. I’ve gone through so much it’s ridiculous and I know exactly what you mean by focusing on things you can control (like eating/exercising). I’m having a rough time now and because of my constant issues with roommates (drug addict, alcoholic, etc), I really don’t have anyone to turn to. You’re inspiring and beautiful! I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog 🙂

    • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy October 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much for reading. I’m sorry you’re going through that right now..I know how tough/annoying it can be. I’m glad you can relate though!

  18. Claire October 18, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    I started tearing up at your story! I’m going through the same thing–I’m currently a junior in college and not “having the time of my life,” like everyone told me I would. I am way too hard on myself and constantly strive for perfection, even though I know it doesn’t really exist. Your story really touched me and (though it’s too late for me to transfer,) it’s good to hear that there is hope!

  19. myrunningthoughts November 8, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    This is a very sweet story and you are brave to share it with everyone 🙂

    I am so happy you “found yourself”, so many people go through life just “going through the motions”.

    The grown up world is hard, but it also has so many great opportunities 🙂

  20. Jonathan Lawton November 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I’m probably the only guy to [ever] post on here (I’m not afraid or I’m just too stupid to be worried of ridicule) but here it goes…

    This is cool Emily, I didn’t know all this about you (anything, actually, since I really haven’t taken any time to read your likes/bio, etc., on Facebook until today when you said you were engaged…congrats and I wish you two the best!). You seem like a very level-headed but personable individual, and, it’s funny, but you remind me a bit like myself (not that you could necessarily tell the way I clown with my terrible puns and “80’s sweaters” at work).

    You’re a very creative writer and –if I may say so– [scratch that phrase…this comment box doesn’t let me do that] you keep it up. 🙂

    • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy November 13, 2011 at 7:43 am #

      Thanks, Jonathan! That is very nice of you to say. You’re not the first guy to comment on here either, so no worries :).

  21. intrepidtraveller December 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Great blog and inspiring story, I hope 2012 brings you even more happiness! 🙂

  22. Laura January 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    What a beautiful, heartfelt post. I am the same age as you (I also started college in 2006) and I too have had my share of challenges and learning experiences. I started my own blog in May 2011 as a way to write (one of my favorite activities) and to document how I am working to get over an eating disorder, which I attribute to have always been a perfectionist. Reading your bio reminds me of myself because I attribute my eating disorder (and all the mental confusion and anguish that comes with it) to being a perfectionist and “people pleaser”. Anyway, sorry for the long ramble, I just feel so happy that I stumbled upon your blog because I feel like I can relate to you. Cannot wait to start following you!

  23. Caitlin C. January 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Hey, thanks for the Twitter follow! Glad to have found your blog. I am currently struggling with body image perfectionism and working on trying to be less controlling with eating and exercise. I hope we can help each other out and I can’t wait to keep reading your posts! I minored in Comm BTW – we’ve got a bit in common there too!

  24. emiliemarie January 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    I felt the same way as you during most of college. I lasted one semester at a private school – partly due to struggling with an eating disorder and partly because I just felt so out of place. I transferred to a local school and commuted from home and it was so much better for me. I have always felt embarrassed that I couldn’t hack it at college like most people do. Anyway I’m really glad I found your blog, you’ve got me hooked!

  25. Stefanie @TheNewHealthy February 11, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    You have such a great story. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist and it’s hard to let go. HUGE kudos to you for making a hard decision (taking the semester off and becoming an intern) that ended up being the right decision. It’s amazing when things work out that way. 🙂

  26. Julia February 17, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    perfectionism is both a blessing and a curse in my life. I have the same struggles: introverted, perfectionistic, and beating myself up when I inevitably don’t live up to my standards.

  27. Julia February 17, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Also, it’s funny that I stumbled upon your blog, because I JUST wrote a post on perfectionism. Perfection is….not being perfect: http://wp.me/pVLR9-12g Not trying to promote my blog or anything, just thought it was ironic.

  28. fitandfuninthird March 31, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Just wanted to let you know I just tagged you in my post and awarded you the “Liebster Blog Award” 🙂

  29. Laura @ Joyful Shimmy April 20, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    I just stumble upon your blog and I love it. I too donated my hair a few years ago to locks of love. I too have struggle with being an overachiever, the need to fit in. I love the reminder that It comes from accepting what are true authentic self wants us is where happy lives not the other way around.

  30. savortherainbow June 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    Wow! Emily, this post really moved me. It’s stories and words like these that remind me, we are all in this together. We are not alone! I can totally relate to your struggles with perfectionism and how it can overwhelm us to the point of breakdown. My perfectionist tendencies led me to a very dangerous path..eating disorders, depression, you name it. I have fought through it and am at a much better place, but I still struggle with it at times..
    However, I always try to remind myself of how much God loves me no matter what! he loves me for who I am..and I am special in his eyes! your post reminded me of this once again..and I thank you

  31. alexxrae June 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Cheers to you, brave girl. Life is worthwhile and healing is possible. Isn’t life delicious? Keep fighting the good fight.

    A.
    http://www.wildheartcity.wordpress.com

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