The Bright Side: Lower your standards!

Published 7:41 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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I have always held myself to a higher standard. Even on the days when it is super hard to get out of bed, the days when red, puffy eyes stare back at me in my mirror, I force myself to apply mascara, blur the dark undertones in my complexation right underneath the bottom eyelids with concealer and put myself together. When I’ve completed everything on my checklist for the day, I go back and add more, rarely letting myself rest until at least the standard work day has come to a close. When we are out with friends, I let myself have a cocktail or two, but rarely more, as I like to be in control of myself 24/7. I edit everything that comes out of my mouth in my head first, because God knows I don’t want anyone taking offense or being off put by what I have to say.

It wasn’t until recently that someone pointed out how perhaps I get so upset when things don’t go my way because I am so hard on myself. I’ve managed to concoct an image that I desire everyone to see from me, one that lets people know I am very capable, intelligent, personable, cognizant, etc., etc. Quite honestly, it’s exhausting. I grew so accustomed to caring about how people perceive me that I forgot why those bags under my eyes have never quite went away.

I appreciate friends who will tell you how it is. It wasn’t always that way for me, I used to hate criticism because I knew it meant I wasn’t performing at my best. But now I welcome it, because I’ve learned everything has something they need to work on. That being said, I appreciated when my friend pointed out that I need to loosen up.

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Everything in life needs room to grow and tending to, us included. If we hold ourselves to such high expectations constantly, where is the room for error? “If God wanted everyone to be perfect, he would have made robots,” my friend said. It is in our mistakes that God uses us as examples of His healing, His love. Once I accepted the fact that I’m going to screw up, I realized that in those times I will have to turn to God. I will need to ask for forgiveness, for guidance, for knowledge. He asks us to constantly turn to Him, especially in our darkest times.

I took away a few things from this conversation: 1. If I loosen the grip on myself, I will loosen the expectations I have for everyone else around me. 2. If I lower the standards I have on myself, and not expect perfection, I will begin to realize that God works through my mess to help others. 3. There is so much beauty in our imperfections. We are human, flaws and all. And God loves us for it.

The truth is, the only opinion that really matters is God’s. All we can do is try our best. If days come when we just don’t feel like trying that hard, it’s okay. We can show up with our “I tried my best” face instead of our “Everything is perfectly fine” one. And if we did everything we set out to do that day, that can be enough. It really is okay to not have it all together all the time. That’s where God works, in the time when we just can’t do it all by ourselves. He’s there; He loves to step in and give us a helping hand.

I wanted to share these hard truths today because I know some of you reading this can relate. I’m still working on letting things go, being easier on myself. But I’ve come to find that I’m more aware of the times when I’m being hard on myself, and I recognize areas in my life where I can give myself some slack. It’s already making a difference, thank God (literally). And in that case, it’s okay to lower your standards, especially for yourself!

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at