“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

-Vince Lombardi

I have been a perfectionist since before I can even remember. I was scared to color as a child because I might have make a mistake. I avoided cooking because people might not like it. I even gave up on writing for a time due to the stress of feeling I had to attain perfection.

Yet, I always found that I grew and became stronger when I faced these fears of inadequacy. Not only that, but whereas I used to be afraid of coloring I am now an artist. While I used to avoid cooking, I am now a baker who prefers technically difficult recipes and regularly creates their own recipes. Lastly, while I backed away from writing for a time, I found that when I had the strength to come back to my passion it only helped me improve further.

It takes time to overcome perfectionist tendencies. Believe me, I know. I have been able to overcome my need for perfection in certain aspects of my life, but I still struggle with it in other areas. It is a constant battle to overcome. Yet, the battle is well worth it, as it can help you attain the goals which you have only dreamed of.

I have found that it is important to constantly strive to do my best, which my perfectionist tendencies aid in. Yet, simultaneously, I must be willing to accept that mistakes are inevitable in everything, and I need to be willing to let them go. One example of this, I always edit my writing. But, I know that it is possible to miss a mistake. Even the great writers of eras gone by have made mistakes in their writing. Nobody is able to completely avoid these mistakes. I can strive to catch every mistake possible, but at some point, I have to tell myself that I have done my best, caught every mistake I am able, and be proud of the work I have accomplished.

One thing I have found which helps is to realize that some “mistakes” are only a matter of opinion. For instance, I was taught to never begin a sentence with a conjunction. This includes words such as but, yet, however, and, so, or, and for. Yet, most major style guides and grammatical publications agree that it is perfectly acceptable to begin a sentence with a conjunction. 

“There is a widespread belief—one with no historical or grammatical foundation—that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice.”

-Chicago Manual of Style

Before you can begin to work on your individual perfectionistic tendencies, you have to come to a mental understanding that everyone makes these mistakes, you are unable to hold yourself to an unattainable standard, learn to forgive yourself, and most importantly you need to learn how to embrace mistakes as a chance to help you learn and grow rather than a reason to berate yourself.

Here is one tip: when you feel overwhelmed by a goal and the need to be perfect, write out a list of your task and the various outcomes. For example, in my life, I feel the need to make holidays absolutely perfect. This includes making a ridiculous amount of food including thirteen pies, a turkey, stuffing, four types of cranberry sauce, and more all from scratch and by myself. Along with this, I also feel as if it is my responsibility to entertain everyone and keep everyone perfectly happy, all while I am overwhelmed. Not only is this more than a single person can realistically handle, but it is impossible to control everyone’s emotions and ensure their happiness.

When I feel myself struggling in this way the list can include all of the expectations I am holding for myself, along with alternative outcomes. I can then cross out the unrealistic outcomes and replace them with those that are more attainable. It may be difficult to let my original goal go, but it is imperative for my well-being and mental health.

Please, don’t continue to allow your perfectionism to hold you back from your dream. If I had continued to be ruled by my own perfectionist tendencies, then I would not be an artist, a baker, or even a self-employed freelance writer. It will take time, it will be difficult. However, I know you can overcome your struggles.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, I hope it encourages you to move forward with hope and strength. I was inspired to write this not only by my lifelong struggle with perfectionism, but also by one of the most recent books I was hired to write by a client. Last week, I mentioned being hired to write a 29,000-word book on productivity and overcoming procrastination. This week, I was hired to write a 10,000-word book on a similar subject, in which I went into detail on seven ways to increase productivity and reach success as a self-employed individual.
If you are looking for a freelance writer for a book, article, or series of blog posts you can contact me at email@rachelkwriter.com.

Throughout time women have been changing history. Some of our best examples of powerful and influential women are royalty, be they princess, dutchess, or queen. Yet, we are told that wanting to be like these brave women is childish, that only girls can admire princesses, and that these women are superficial. This perception of royal women being something only a child can admire is a shining example of the way in which women are often looked down upon and diminished. There are many influential women we could look as examples, but in this article, I will share three of my favorite women of royalty.

Hatshepsut, King of Egypt

While originally beginning her role as princess and then queen consort, once Hatshepsut’s husband died and her two-year-old nephew took the throne she became regent. During her seventh year as regent, she crowned herself king. The reason for this is unknown, but it seems to have gone unchallenged. Therefore, historians surmise there may have been a political event that required a full-fledged king.
Regardless, Hatshepsut was able to retain her power throughout her entire life. During her ruling as king beside her nephew, who was also king, she was able to attain even more power than he was. It was not until the time near Hatshepsut’s death in her seventies that her nephew began to have nearly as much power as his aunt. 
During her reign as king, Hatshepsut accomplished overseeing the development of many building projects, including the famed temple of  Deir el-Bahri; promoted foreign trade; embraced the arts; and she was able to successfully maintain peace for the Egyptian empire.

Lakshmi, Rani of Jhansi

Lakshmi Bai became the Rani (queen) of Jhansi when she married Maharaja Gangadhar Rao. However, when he began to pass away without an heir the royal couple adopted a child who was a close relative, as was Hindu tradition. While the child was legally theirs and was a respected practice for a ruler without an heir, the British government took this opportunity to claim the heir as invalid. Queen Victoria rejected the appeal of the Jhansi government, took control of the throne, and seized their state jewels.
The British government continued to hold power over the Jhansi people until a rumor began that the British soldiers were coating their bullets with the blood of cows and pigs, which is unclean for those of the Hindu religion.
When a revolt broke out with the inmates of a local jail participating, not only did they kill the British officers guarding them, they also attempted to kill the innocent family members. Lakshmi gave shelter to these families in her home, protecting them from the revolters. Soon thereafter, the British government was forced to focus elsewhere in India, giving Lakshmi the opportunity to regain her throne and prove herself. When the British attempted to retake Jhansi she was willing to fight for her people and country, so she led a revolt on the front lines.
After battling in a fort for four days with twenty-thousand rebels their defenses fell. With her child strapped onto her back, Lakshmi and her aides fled the area on horseback and went to join the remainder of their forces, which were stationed nearly one-hundred miles away.
Lakshmi once again formed a battalion and readied to overtake the British forces at the fort of Gwalior, which was a few miles away from Jhansi. Despite having the upper hand, the British lost the fort due to Lakshmi’s successful tactics.
Sadly, a few days later the British army once again recaptured the fort, forcing Lakshmi and her son to once again flee. Dressed as a man to disguise herself, on horseback, with a sword in hand Lakshmi fought to get away. Although, the British soldiers were too fast and inflicted mortal wounds upon her before she was able to escape. Before dying in a secluded space she succeeded in saving the life of her son and handed him over to a trusted friend and general.

Marie-Louise, Archduchess of Austria and Empress of France

As Marie-Louise Dutchess of Austria, who was the great-niece of Marie Antoinette, was growing up she was taught to despise France. This was worsened when Napoleon led the French military to her home of Austria, causing devastation to her country and requiring her to flee to Vienna for a year when she was fourteen. The diary of Marie-Louise gives us a look into how she was feeling at the time. She wrote: “the French ogre was said to be the Beast of the Apocalypse” and after mentioning that his death had been predicted for the year, “how happy I would be if this were true“.
A number of years later, after having her mom pass away and father remarry, Maire-Louise was again forced to flee when war once again broke out between Austria and France. We can find more about Napoleon in her diary at this time, her having written: “to see that man would be the worst form of torture“. Yet, she did not know that her family was negotiating with Napoleon who was seeking her as a new wife, in want of a woman who could give birth to an heir.
Once Marie-Louise was finally informed of these negotiations she wrote a friend and simply but bravely said: “I wish only what my duty commands me to wish.” However, she did also mention that she was making “a painful sacrifice” for the good of her country.
Despite being forced into a marriage to bear the child of the man she most hated and who had committed countless atrocities, Marie-Louise went into it willingly and bravely for the sake of her people.

While princesses and queens are seen as something only girls during their early adolescence should aspire to, the actions of these prominent and brave women can inspire us all. Whether we need the courage to get through a difficult day at the office, the loss of a loved one, or when taking on a new endeavor. We can look at these royal women throughout history to encourage and inspire.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Recently, while I was writing a book on ancient Egypt and its most prominent kings and queens for a client I found myself inspired by the many powerful women in Egypt’s history. If you are interested in working with me please check out my Services page for my rates and message me at email@rachelkwriter.com.