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Letting Go Of Perfection Helped Me Live My Purpose

Inspiration

Perfection (noun): the state of being complete and correct in every way

As a writer, I like the challenge of picking words that best describe something. And the word I would use to name the thing I dislike the most at this stage of my life and career is "perfection."


Let me explain.

I started brainstorming on what my dream career would be like during the first days of April 2018. At the time, my job as an Executive Assistant wasn't giving me the fulfilment I was looking for. I knew something had to change. I mind-mapped my ideas and have been lucky enough to quickly figure out who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and why. Especially why. From there, I knew I had found my purpose.

It took about five months before I was able to completely assemble the puzzle of my dream career and finally see what the big picture looked like.

In doing so, I understood that the impact I was trying to have on the world would require a lot of work, consistency, and determination. I also had to accept the fact that my 9 to 5 was still going to be in sight for quite some time. Not as a dream killer as I had always viewed it as, but as a dream supporter, helping me fund the life I saw for myself. I mean, if I don't fund my dream, who will?

My plan was simple: I was going to work my way to the top and become a public figure using my voice and my writing to inspire people to go after their dream life (writing it down makes it even sexier). Of course, the journey wasn't going to be easy. It is a well-known fact that with every new level comes a new devil, and here is where perfection got in the way and almost defeated me.

The Perfect Moment Doesn't Exist, You Have To Create It.

The next steps I needed to take to make my project come to life were clear; get a logo for my brand, create both my website and YouTube Channel, and most importantly, create good content. The deadline to launch the whole concept was initially set for September 2018. Initially, yes. Almost immediately, I failed.

So, I set another deadline later that year, which I haven't been able to meet either. In fact, the closer launch day was, the less I felt ready to unveil myself to the world. Of course, it's no wonder fear was the reason I was delaying the birth of my imprint on the world.

Fear of not being good enough.

Fear of not having what it takes.

Fear of not matching my ambitions.

Fear of not being perfect for the job.

While I was trying so hard to find strength and courage within myself to do what I was supposed to, the book I'd finished writing a few months earlier has been published on Amazon. My childhood dream had become reality: I was now a published author!

However, no matter how big this achievement is to me, it, too, took months before I felt ready to publicly announce that I had written a book. One, because I didn't want to make an announcement without my brand being launched for marketing reasons. And two, as a French-speaking author who decided to write her first book in English, I feared it would be mediocre.

Perfection reared its ugly head yet again.

I decided I had enough. The need to achieve perfection had to go. Perfection was holding me back from living in my purpose. And it had been like that for too long. It was time for me to embrace my flaws and let the world know that Savannah Was Here. Finally, after having failed the first two times, I eventually managed to publish my brand's Facebook page, announce the publication of my first book, film my first video, and finally click the post button on YouTube. I must mention that besides my brand's story and its visual image, nothing was ready for publication. I'll be honest, perfection was fighting me. I had the hardest time letting go and I definitely had to count to three and hold my breath before I took the big jump. But at least, I jumped.

And guess what? Nobody even complained that what I created wasn't perfect. In fact, people have been asking why it took me so long to show off. I was even told that I make doing the things I love look magical. The process to creating and building my brand taught me an important thing: The perfect moment doesn't exist, you create it. If you wait for it, you're wasting your time. It's in your power to decide to make a moment perfect and to define what exactly makes it perfect. Also, I believe that one way to ensure that nothing happens is to want to achieve perfection; so don't be too hard on yourself.

Zig Ziglar once said, "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."

Being A Work In Progress Still Makes You Relevant

All this time, I thought I needed to be a fully accomplished woman in order to inspire people. I used to wonder who is going to listen and take lessons from a 23-year-old who doesn't even have one third of Oprah's knowledge of life? Well, Oprah wasn't built in a day, they said. And here's even more good news: I doubt any of the most inspiring people on earth were.

No matter your age or your personal story, you owe yourself and the world to start somewhere and start using your gift in a meaningful way. Because the truth is, you never know who you are inspiring. When you walk in your purpose as a work in progress, it's magical to see because you become someone who's not better than anyone. You take the world by the hand and show it that it's possible. That we are all possible.

When you make the decision to truly walk in your purpose and use your gift, you eventually win people over to your cause and change the world, whether you want to become a dentist, an attorney, or a TV host. Give yourself the right to celebrate your small wins because they will be the stepping-stones to your purposeful life.

Give Perfection A New Meaning

Even if you don't eliminate perfection altogether, I'm finding there's a chance to make peace with perfection. Instead of letting society's standards define perfection for me, I'm redefining it by giving the word a meaning that reflects me and where I am at the moment:

Perfection (noun): the state of one's mind acknowledging how magical his or her flaws are, which procures a feeling of freedom of being

Featured image by Getty Images.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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