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A recent study found that men are more likely to apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women are more likely to apply if they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. Why? Because often, women are raised to avoid risk and failure at all costs. Whereas men are more likely to jump into unfamiliar territory without worry. Here at Look & Cover, we believe that in order to live a happier, more satisfying life, we need to break free of this conditioning.

From a young age, boys are often taught to be brave, while girls are taught to be perfect. Rewarded for perfection from the time we’re young, we often grow up to be terrified to fail. We often hold ourselves back from taking risks in our personal and professional lives, consciously or unconsciously, from trying anything that we’re not certain we’ll be amazing at to avoid the potential pain and humiliation. 

The need to be perfect holds us back in so many ways. We often don’t speak up for ourselves, as we know deep down we should, because we don’t want to be seen as pushy, or unlikable. Yet, when we hold ourselves back for fear of not being good enough or fear of being rejected, we lessen our opportunities for success and happiness.

This drive to be perfect can take a toll on our well-being, too, as we lose sleep ruminating over the slightest mistake or worrying that someone was offended by something that we said or did. Conditioned to be helpful and accommodating at all costs, we can sometimes run ourselves ragged trying to do it all and end up exhausted, depleted, even sick because we give away so much of our energy and time to others.

Our self-esteem takes a hit when we stay silent in moments we know we should have spoken up, or when we say yes when we really wanted to say no out of fear of not being liked. Our relationships and hearts suffer when we put up a glossy veneer of perfection; the protective layer may keep others from seeing our flaws and vulnerabilities, but it also isolates us from those we love and keeps us from forging truly meaningful and authentic connections.

What if you could stop berating yourself mercilessly for human mistakes, let go of the guilt and pressure to be perfect, and just breathe? What if, in every decision you faced, you made the brave choice or took the bolder path. Would you be happier? Would you impact the world in the ways you dream you can? When we let go of the fear of not being perfect, we can find freedom, joy, and all the other good stuff we want in life. So at Look & Cover, we think it’s time to stop giving up before we try. 

Letting go of the fear of being less than perfect is easier than you think. It all comes down to exercising your bravery muscles, one little bit at a time. It’s never too late. By letting go of the need to be perfect and retraining ourselves to be brave, every one of us can dare her own version of the unthinkable. So we invite you to consider something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t, and decide today that you’re going to make it happen.