Perfectionism Versus the "Balls" of Life

09 January 2022

I feel personally attacked by the amount of balls that exist in my life right now. Who else feels suffocated by the balls of life we juggle?

I feel personally attacked by the amount of balls that exist in my life right now. Who else feels suffocated by the balls of life we juggle? In this season of life, my juggling balls consist of, in alphabetical order, (because, Virgo):

Building a career





Learning to age

Maintaining friendships



Self-care (snort)




Worrying about the doom of the planet

(Take a guess at which balls lie on the floor more than they fly through the air.) I’m sure there are more balls somewhere I am neglecting to include, but we all know that any given woman’s load of balls is too heavy. Many women may look at my balls and think, I wish. I am blessed to have balls that are not the size of watermelons, re: poverty, health issues, abuse. I am extremely privileged; I am humbled by the women who bear the world on their shoulders. I see you and admire you. I am grateful for my balls, but damn…they get heavy. Not the kind of heavy that helps me look like a gym rat, but the kind of heavy that tolls my body and soul. The pressure to keep the balls in the air is at best overwhelming and at worst harmful. Women know what’s up; “the list” is not a new concept. I want to explore the list within a subset of women: the female Virgo. Lists are basically the Virgo brand. Making lists, categorizing lists, making lists of lists, scratching things off of lists, and auditing existing lists make this Virgo’s carousel go round. My list above was not hard to make (though my anxiety right now about missing things on the list is palpable), but I wonder if my list-making Virgo nature is manifesting a burdensome pile of balls. Is my list-mindframe causing me to invent balls to add to my juggling rotation? Everyone has lists, right? Statistically, women have longer and heavier lists, but how is a Virgo’s list different from others’? I chose to share the particular list above (out of many, many lists) because it is not one of the nitty-gritty, day-to-day lists. Nor is it the “mental load” list that I write about elsewhere. It is my check-in-with-my-season-of-life-list. The items on the list are big-picture aspects of what makes up my current (35-year-old) life. I’ll call it my 3.0 season. In the 3.0 season–young children, marriage, middle-management, peri-menopause?–there are several life components that are pulling us in every direction. So many areas of life need our attention at once. Speaking as a Virgo, my 3.0 season has been burdensome. Yes, I’m painfully aware that I should cherish my thirties (they’re the new twenties, right?), especially with small children who will grow too fast. I try to slow down enough to appreciate this season. But my life-long penchant for perfectionism is really at odds with all those heavy balls. Even naming the season 3.0 grates my nerves because it represents a “B” in my mind–not a perfect “A.” At the risk of sounding whiny, I admit that my life up to the 3.0 has been easy to handle, with an amount of balls I could juggle flawlessly. Perhaps the momentum of my twenties fooled me into thinking life was a breeze. I have been in season 3.0 for seven years; only now do I have space to reflect on what I feel weighing me down. My juggling balls. I will not pretend that I am keeping them all up in the air at once (it’s impossible), and I shame myself for it. The shame comes from the social conditioning I share with women everywhere, but it is compounded by my Virgo craving of perfection. It is compounded by the fact that I know–to my core–that perfection is unattainable and even undesirable. Look at that list up there! How can any one person be perfect in each of those things? I would never expect those I love to be perfect in any way. I find it easy to give others grace in this messy life. Why is it so hard for me to give myself grace and shift my own expectations about perfectionism?