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I’m Not Superwoman: Perfectionism and My Fear of Failure

With International Women’s Day coming up, we decided to explore how perfectionism and the fear of failure impacts women and what we can do about it

Lindsay Walsh

As a professional woman, I feel enormous pressure to be perfect. I am brutally self-critical and constantly battle with imposter syndrome, convinced that any mistake, no matter how minor, will send all my clients rushing to work with someone else.

The pressure is so intense that I sometimes find myself self-sabotaging, so scared of failing that I don’t even try. And I’m pretty damn sure I’m not the only woman who feels this way.  This pressure to be perfect only increases for women at the top. When you’re the only woman in the room and your actions are essentially considered representative of your entire gender, it’s hard to feel like there’s any margin for error.

Women are expected to do it all and have it all, and any failure to do so is taken as a sign that maybe they just didn’t belong in the first place.

Not only does society judge women more harshly for our failures than it does men, but it also refuses to fucking pay us! Women around the world are paid just 63% of what men earn for doing the exact same work. There is no country (not a single one) where men spend the same amount of time on unpaid work as women.

It’s 2020, and we’re still stuck with the same unreasonable expectation that female leaders be “superwomen” that do everything without error while being paid less than their male colleagues. This, my friends, is fucked up.

It is desperately important to challenge this expectation. We need to share our accomplishments and build each other up, yes, but even more importantly, we need to get on stage to share our failures. We are not perfect. We get it wrong sometimes. But being vulnerable and open about these fuckups makes us more powerful, not less.

It is time to create new models of “success” that value vulnerability, authenticity, and community over perfection, false narratives, and individualism. Models where women can bring their whole selves to the table.

And now I’m having a really hard time finishing this blog post because I can’t find exactly the right closing sentence. But for once, I’m actually okay with the fact that it’s not perfect.

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I’m Not Superwoman: Perfectionism and My Fear of Failure


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