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Perfectionism – self abuse of the highest order

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I walked off the TEDx Wolverhampton stage last week and all I could think of was everything that went wrong! I focused so much on what I did not say, I forgot to appreciate the impact of what I did say, and what it meant for those who could relate. I spent a long time obsessing about my arms – they have been a long-term bane of my existence and I always have them covered up. Even when I was much slimmer. So why I chose to expose them on the TEDx stage I will never know. Let us not even go into the tummy bloat worsened by multiple fibroids.

People congratulated me after the talk and said how good it was and how much it resonated. I didn’t believe them even though I walked out to a round of applause from the other speakers. A rush of negativity was my initial reaction to such an achievement. Why? My name is Pamilerin Beckley and I am a functioning perfectionist who also suffers from imposter syndrome. The good news is that the initial reaction lasted a lot shorter than it would have a few years ago. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the opportunity to grace such a stage. Who? Me? NEVER! 

When I first discovered the term – imposter syndrome, it was broken down into 5 different types. 

Somehow, I felt personally attacked by all five! They all resonated. It felt good to have a “diagnosis” so the next step was to find a cure. I have discovered that the best cure for self-doubt is to embrace self-awareness; give yourself time to reflect, then get out of your way and do the work. There is always room to grow. I know my triggers and I watch out for them and try to be intentional in taming myself and talking myself away from the edge when I am walking towards it. Or reminding myself to focus on the positives and search for moments to learn and grow, not moments to nitpick, criticise, and make myself feel bad. 

So in this instance, I have decided that I want to explore public speaking even more and get better at it. So I will actively seek out avenues for me to explore it as a craft. I also took a moment to remind myself that no one who listened to that talk knew what I had originally written! Not one person! I also had to ask myself how realistic the expectations I set for myself were, considering all the extenuating factors. It was never going to be “perfect”. Not by the standards I set for myself anyway. Most importantly, I reminded myself that I cannot be a voice advocating against Violence Against Women and Girls, while my inner voice is choosing psychological violence and self-abuse. In the simple words of the 8-year-old changemaker whom I have been entrusted with raising;

“You know it’s all over now right? That means you don’t have to worry about it anymore. What’s next?”

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