I didn’t know I was a perfectionist

Deep ✨

Ever since I can remember, I have been a ‘6-type’ of person. In the dutch scholar system, a six is a very average grade, that is just about enough to pass. Sixes-people aren’t outstanding people. They settle for less or are kinda simple. They don’t excel in anything. They’re fine. Content. And probably lazy.

I thought I was lazy

And I always took pride in this identity. As a student, I was fine getting graded a six, because I did very little to pass my classes. I took pride in this six, because I hardly even worked for it and it still worked out. That must’ve meant I was kinda smart right?! I always started studying or working on assignments the night before the deadline. I didn’t even try to start before that moment. I agreed that I was lazy, and I didn’t mind it.

I even felt like people with higher grades were just wasting time. Why work for a nine, if you only need a six to pass? In the special occasion I got a higher grade, I even sighed and said: I worked too hard again. I wanted time for myself, so bothered as little as possible for schoolwork and just made sprints out of my deadlines.

So I took a test

But when I started by fulltime job, I was offered a workshop on changing habits. I wanted to change my lazy procrastination habits and explained the situation to my coach. He asked me if I had ever been tested for performance anxiety. ‘Of course not!’ I replied. I was the opposite of that! I was lazy, cared more for my free time and hobbies than for achieving things and being successful.

Yet he insisted and asked me to take a perfectionism-test. This test didn’t ask me to explain my habits and actions, but analysed my habits and actions to see which fears and cravings were beneath them. The result? I am a hardcore perfectionist. I crave achievement and success. Failure and being average terrifies me. So why did I choose for these things on purpose for so long?

How I covered my fears

Turns out, I tried to cover the fear of being a failure or being average, by purposely showing that behaviour. As long as I didn’t try hard to reach my goals, I didn’t have to conclude that I was failing if I didn’t reach them. If I failed, or performed just average, it wasn’t too hard for me because I never really tried anyway. Moreover, I was applauding myself for not trying and still being somewhat successful!

Of course I wanted the high grades, but I never dared to see what happened if I actually studied for a 10. Being a smart girl has always been my identity, so what would happen if I studied for a 10, but still only got a 7 or 8? I much rather was the girl who was smart for not studying and still getting that 6.

I soon realised that this underachieving was applicable to many more situations in my life. I never set goals for myself or shared them with others, out of fear for not reaching them and having to conclude that I’m a failure. And because I never really tried the hard stuff, I didn’t gain any self-confidence on these matters either. Because if you don’t try, sure you cannot fail – but you cannot succeed either. And you never prove your insecurities wrong.

I learned to try

But I knew that that was no way to live. Deep down, I am not that lazy or average girl, and more important: I do have goals and dreams! So I took one year to actually try for what I wanted. I promised myself to actually write down work for my goals, and also share them with the world.

Within 5 months, I had reached all of the goals I had set for the year. I was flabbergasted, but also really thankful to hear a new voice that was now clear in my head, saying: you knew you could do this all along. You were just too scared.

I remember the moment I was going for my first try at my drivers license. I said to my friend that I was really afraid to fail. She understood, but also reality-checked me and said: Have you ever really tried at something you wanted and failed? And she was right. If I really want something, I always get it. And if I’m scared? I’ll do it scared.

Do it scared

Because being perfect is impossible. Everybody fails at times. And that can be scary, and it can hurt. But being lazy is not an option in this life that has so much to offer. ‘Life starts at the end of your comfort zone’ has been a motto since I took that test. And I challenge everyone reading this to please: face the fears that are holding you back from what you deserve.

Life is too short to be comfortable (or average).

xx Coco

My comfort zone sweet spot

Deep ✨

Since I learned how to feel really good, and that I can manipulate myself into feeling THAT good, I have thought about the ‘feel good sweet spot’. For me, it is a place just outside of my comfort zone, but not too far from it. Let me tell you about it.

In what mental space or place in your life you feel your best, varies from person to person. But I think we all have a ‘sweet spot’ where we feel really good, and feel like we’re thriving in life. This might be just a phase in your life, or certain moments. But many people (like myself) have learned how to stay in this spot for a longer time, by choice.

Find your sweet spot

Let’s start by figuring out under which conditions you get that ‘thriving’ feeling. Is it when everything in your life is calm and quiet, or when challenges come up? Is it when you’re surrounded by people you handle easily, or by people who make you second guess yourself and the way you live life?

What I’m actually saying is: many people love life the most when they have good mix of rest and accomplishment. Of course, it is nice when life is easy and everything goes your way. But most humans need some form of challenge to feel proud of themselves now and then, and to raise their own standards.

Think of a moment in your life when your balance between peace and provocation was just perfect. Do you want things to be quiet, more than you want them to be exiting? Then you’re probably more happy in or close to your comfort zone. Do you like life more when you can develop and prove yourself wrong? Then your sweet spot is probably far out of your comfort zone. Most people though, are somewhere in between.

Take your job for example. Of course, it is nice to know everything about whatever tasks you should be doing. But if you never learn new stuff, or run into new situations and people, it is quite hard to find excitement in your work. Or think about friends: it’s really good to be loyal and surround yourself with like-minded people. But if you never reach out to someone who has an opposite life or opinions – you are never challenged in your beliefs. That is not what most people would call life with a capital L.

Just slightly uncomfortable

For me, my sweet spot is right outside my comfort zone. Not too far away, just slightly over the edge. I love knowing what I’m going to get, and I wouldn’t say I’m adventurous at all. But I do like to dream big, and in order to reach your dreams, you have to stay in (almost) constant motion. And you guessed it – there is hardly any movement inside the comfort zone.

So I like to be comfortable most of the time. I prefer watching movies that I’ve seen before, and going to restaurants and countries that I know I like. I don’t like to be disappointed after putting in time and energy (which is probably why I don’t like cooking), so I prefer to take the paths walked before. But when it comes to my career, my hobbies and my friends – I do like to challenge myself a little.

Because I also like to learn and expand my capabilities. I think the main reason for this is that I like the sense of accomplishment. I hardly ever fail when I try new things (also because I don’t try things that I’m probably gonna fail at), but proving yourself that you can do something you’ve never done before is a really good feeling.

Other than that, I really believe in taking chances. When some good opportunity comes my way, I usually take it. And these are often the moments when I’m out of my comfort zone. In that sense, I don’t like to ‘struggle’ to reach my goals. But when life offers them to you on a plate – you better take it, no matter the costs. Then I choose to close my eyes and jump.

Because I really do believe in going with the flow, and not swimming against the stream out of fear, comfort or habit. And the stream sometimes takes you out of your comfort zone, but that’s where the big things happen for me. And when I feel my best!

I would like to leave you with a quote I heard on a podcast (about death, ironically) recently: Life is for us to receive, to learn and to love. Now ask yourself how much of these you can do on either side of your comfort zone.

xx Coco