Do You Feel Pressured To Be A Perfect Person?

Apr 10, 2014 | Creativity



You see images everywhere. People tell their “life stories” of the miraculous things they have done. We watch fantasy films that seem real. Social media paints pictures of so much riotous fun. Impossibly awesome days with insanely divine experiences.  We are left with a feeling that somehow other people are much luckier than we are.

What you should know is that often times: blemishes are edited, details are omitted, miracles are overstated, fantasy doesn’t meet reality, ones credentials are embellished and their misgivings stuffed in a closet.

I don’t need to tell you that perfection is a myth. You know that.

What I wanted to share today is a bit different.

Self-help, betterment, all of this stuff is not helpful if it forces you to tear yourself into pieces. 

picasso drawing

When I was 12 years old I went to a restaurant in La Costa, San Diego with my father in the high-point of his charasmatic mania.  A woman walked into a room.

“You see her?” he said. “She commands the entire room to look at her.”

I wasn’t impressed, but he continued.

“You will be judged in life on a checklist: how smart you are, how well you speak, your posture, your hair, your teeth, your background, your confidence, everything…”

He went on and on. And on and on.

Of course, my father was a lunatic and he hated himself.  So he projected it all on me, his chance to “redo” his life and get things right. I was 12. All I saw was her hair, her tan, her jewels and my father talking about all that I lacked.

I think we all have had our own verson of that moment, or a series of them. You don’t need a diabolical father to have the moment where the world tries to tell you that you will never be good enough.

Then he took me to get my already-white teeth bleached and got two moles removed from my face that you never would see anyway, but he assured me they would ruin my life if they stayed on my face.

From that moment I viewed myself as a fragmented being. A checklist.

Within a few months, I was 80 pounds and 5’9″ tall. All of that happened in a blaze of concentrated self-betterment that got out of control.

If you asked me what I was doing I could list all the spiritual, nutritional and educational correctness of my every action.

Nothing is correct if it enslaves you.

You can use all kinds of self-help tools to actually make your life better. Or you can use them to tear yourself apart.

This is not uncommon, to see good things run amok into destruction.

There is this awesome theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine of yin & yang. You know the symbol.  You need darmess to balance light and light to balance darkness.  There is also darkness WITHIN light and light WITHIN darkness.

When I was 14, my high school was  going to force my mother to hospitalize me or else they would expell me.  I was sent home, with my fingers turning slightly blue and my hair falling in big patches. My skin turned yellow about a month before.  I was drinking from the gallon of water I kept on my dresser, hoping to feel full enough to be able to think. I looked down at my body that was barely there, and sort of cried with no tears.

That was the day I knew that I had something in me that could turn the desire for greatness into my own death. It was also the day I started eating again.

For almost two decades I had to be very aware that my desire to be so excellent on an imaginary list could potentially kill me. It was not a quick fix. No books, no manuals and no specialists could do it for me.  Some may help you. They just fueled my fire for self-fixing.

The best thing I did: I learned to stop attracting people into my life who demanded that I was perfect.  It started by walking away from the ones I had in my life, and then ditching ones that revealed themselves over time.

I hope you allow yourself to be imperfect. I hope you use self-betterment to make things better, but not to be perfect. I hope you know you are not a checklist. I hope you don’t waste your time trying to make the right decisions because nothing is really ever perfectly right or wrong.   And I hope you don’t spend time trying to appease the ghost of a person or people who couldn’t just accept you for who you are. It’s not worth it.

Plently of people will love you for being you. And the world needs your gifts.

xoxo Dana



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  1. Leemanray

    Thank you for your deep words and very important reminders.
    It’s funny how when someone you have never met share a story that is close to yours and you’re immediately submerged by a huge and warm wave of compassion, sometimes there is also a little bit of sadness, because you realize that you’d never feel that compassionate towards yourself and you finally understand something.
    And, yes, in all forms of perfectionism, there is a secret wish to make yourself disappear, something that takes you away from life.

  2. lisa

    Dana, thank you for this beautiful post. My heart broke when you said ” That was the day I knew that I had something in me that could turn the desire for greatness into my own death.” Wow. This is such a true and sad reality. Some very wise insights on the dangers of self-help tools, as well.

    I think that you and what you do are beautiful. Just had to pop in and say so.

  3. Jules

    Thank you for your bravery, Dana. Your readers loved that you survived to find happiness and enrich our lives as well.

  4. Ken

    Make the best of it, whatever it is, If you can hold your head up high and find a way to not onley help yourself, but help other involved or in a similar situation, then you will be on your way to living the highest level of personal resposibility and fulfillment.
    Thanks for being you!!
    Much Love Dana!!

  5. Barchi

    Dana, thank you for being such an inspiration! I really admire you and most of all your strength that you are willing to share your “dark” side with us. Hope you are proud for you are now whole, not broken 🙂
    Lots of love to you!

  6. Jade

    Thank you for sharing part of your story Dana, it seems a lot of us have these scars from childhood that leave us feeling fragmented and unworthy, we then spend so much time trying to fix ourselves and please others thinking it will make us whole again. I learnt the only way I can be happy is to do what makes my heart sing, even in times of upheaval and stress I know I will be ok. I love your blog, I don’t think I’ve ever commented before but I couldn’t not comment this time. Namaste x

    • danaclaudat

      xoxoxo Jade. & its beautiful what you said, ” do what makes my heart sing”…. thank you! so much!

  7. donna

    You’ve shed some new light on my past week, Dana. First, out of the blue, I just decided to stop pressuring myself about many things that “don’t seem to get done” or “can’t seem to get organized” in my life. Seems I’m now getting more done by criticizing myself less and taking care of me more. Imagine that! Then, starting around Tuesday, I started feeling rather “dark”, and by Thursday spent a good portion of the day and evening crying off and on. Very out of character for me. Full moon and eclipse affecting major shifts in my life?

    Thanks for the wonderful and thought provoking posts. I felt so sad reading what you endured with your father. I grew up never feeling “good enough” too, although not related so directly to anything put upon me by a parent. But I guess if we appreciate ourselves as we are today, then we can accept that that past was a part of making us what we are today, yah?

  8. Emma

    Hi Dana
    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while now but never commented before. But when I came across this article today and cried while reading it, I just had to say something.
    This article really hit home with me. I struggled with an ED from a very young age and that sense of wanting to meet unrealistic and unhealthy ideas of “perfect” that I held myself up to has always stayed with me in all areas of my life. I think part of the reason why I visit your site so much is because I am always trying to “improve” myself and my life… but like you said, I see the danger in that.. I am so often plagued by own ideas of what my life should be that I cannot enjoy it for what it is..
    I know I need to change my thinking of what “self-improvement” is really supposed to be. Thank you for this post and sharing your story with us:) You do great work and touch and inspire lives everyday xoxo

    • danaclaudat

      Wow, now i’m crying… in a great way! Thank you for this message Emma. i think more people like us walk the line between Self-Improvement & Self-Enslavement than we are aware of… its a cultural thing now. And its awesome that we can change it. 🙂 xoxoxoxoxo


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