To All The Little Girls (Including My Own)- Don't Let Perfection Squash Your Dreams - BY Emily Cretella for MotherHustle
“There is no perfect execution of a perfect dream. If you want to live a dream-filled, creative life, you also need to let go of the perfectionism.”

“She’s an old soul.” “Always in her head.” “Headstrong.” “She has a very specific vision.”

Most of the comments from teachers throughout my school years were similar, and they all reflected an underlying feeling: I was creative, yet stubborn in my visions. I had dreams that I wanted executed perfectly. And when my output didn’t match what I dreamed up in my head, I was easily set off and discouraged.

Why didn’t they understand that this wasn’t how I envisioned it to be? Why didn’t they get that following through on my exact creative vision was important to me? Why couldn’t they see this isn’t what I dreamed?

I now understand how frustrating this can be … because I’m raising a daughter with the same intense dreams — and same intense perfectionism.

Just as I was at her age, my 8-year-old daughter is an old soul. She dreams of stories, of songs, of big-budget productions. She wants to be a singer, and an actress, and make movies, and write books. She ropes her entire class into writing and producing a play at recess; she stands in front of the entire school and sings whenever she gets the chance; she covers her room in sketches and poems and songs that are somehow depicting the big thoughts constantly running in her brain.

She, like I was am, is a dreamer.

She has big, big plans. But she is also hindered by the stress that can come along with reality not exactly mirroring vision. She wants her world to reflect her dreams, and she is disappointed when she cannot create her perfect ideas in the real world.

I feel like this is where I will help her most: by teaching her to see her dreams as they come true, beyond the barrier of perfectionism.

Too often, we expect our dreams to show up as they appear: in perfect, complete form. We forget that dreams themselves are ephemeral, constantly shifting, fuzzy and incomplete. And because of that, we often look past them when they appear in real life. We don’t recognize our dreams coming true, right in front of us.

When we actively look out for our dreams, we can often see their impact on our lives.

When I think of dreams, and what they mean and how they shape us, I think of us both, mother and daughter. So similar in our drive and our dreams. So set in our ways. I have so much I want to tell her; so much I want her to know.

I want to tell her that *DREAM BIG* isn’t just a platitude for journal covers and calendars.

Dreaming big is a gateway to creating your own reality. It’s a way to figure out the elements of the life you want. It’s how you open yourself up to live a creative life. The more you allow yourself you dream big, the more you allow big dreams to emerge.

I also want to tell her that there is no perfect execution of a perfect dream.

That it’s okay if your dreams don’t emerge into reality in the exact form you expected. That if you want to live a dream-filled, creative life, you also need to let go of the perfectionism. Give yourself a break. And celebrate the dreams that do come to life, in their own way.

I want her to know that, once you set the perfectionism aside, the dreams of childhood can show up in real, tangible ways in adulthood.

I remember drawing a picture of “my future self” in a guided diary when I was probably 10 years old. It was me, sitting at a desk in front of a computer. It was in answer to the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I remember writing under the photo: I want to be a writer — but maybe a teacher during the school year.

Already then, I knew I wanted to write, but I had no idea how to make that dream show up in my reality. Regardless, I always held the dream in high regard.

Today, I write for a living.

That’s pretty awesome. It’s something that I don’t think about often enough — how that childhood dream of mine actually came true. Back then, I could never have imagined what the dream would look like when it came into reality — and still, I have no idea what this dream will look like in future realities.

Perhaps I will always have a business in writing. Or perhaps that dream of making a living as a writer will shift to other avenues, like fiction. Or perhaps this platform here, this MotherHustle near and dear to my heart, will help me live the dream in a new, unforeseen way.

Regardless of how it continues to show up, the dream itself is alive and well.

And as my daughter’s dreams continue to grow and shift, it’s my job to help her see them as they appear in her own realities. To show her that once you put down the perfectionism, you give your dreams room to grow and take hold. And to remind her that having big dreams — that being an old soul, headstrong and always in her head — is one of the things I will always love most about her.


Emily Cretella is the founder of MotherHustle.com, as well as the copywriting and content marketing firm CursiveContent.com, where she helps clients create + share stories their audiences love.

She adores being mom to her two little ladies and drinking obscene amounts of coffee from mugs with pithy sayings. Find her on Instagram, and learn more about ways you can collaborate with MotherHustle. 

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  • Ashley Gartland

    This piece hit home as a recovering perfectionist raising a perfectionistic daughter – and you can bet that both of us have big, creative dreams.

    January 11, 2019 at 6:56 pm

  • admin

    So happy it resonated, Ashley! 💕

    January 11, 2019 at 7:11 pm

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