My best friend and I have the same conversation a couple of times a year. Usually it’s one centered around me complaining about my first-world problems and insecurities and her always saying, “You’re too hard on yourself.” We had it yesterday. For the 139th time. These conversations typically consist of me mumbling/trying not to cry as I vent about a hodgepodge of issues including, but not limited to, finances, career goals and overall expectations of how I’d like things to be.
I should know by now that one of my greatest virtues and vices is how hard I am on myself. I expect a lot and those skyscraper expectations often times leave very little margin for error. Very little margin for mistakes or setbacks or sometimes-shit-just-happens. When shit just happens, as it usually does, I take it far too personally. I internalize it and keep that shit harbored in my heart long past its expiration date. Those high expectations I set for myself also don’t give me enough space to 1) properly celebrate my successes 2) breathe easy when things don’t go according to plan and 3) recharge. It’s cool to be hard on yourself, until you’ve forgotten to take a step back and show gratitude for the things that have gone well. It’s OK to be hard on yourself, but not at the expense of your own sanity and peace of mind.
Perfectionism is a pretty form of insecurity. Claiming that you are a perfectionist, which is one identifier I’d use to describe myself, is a socially acceptable way to say you’re always worried you’ll never be good enough. Perfectionism is some bullshit that only exists in Narnia. Chasing that which you know is not attainable softens the blow when you simply don’t attain what you desire. I don’t want to be a perfectionist anymore. Because perfectionism is just the devil in your pretty little head telling you a bunch of lies of about who you are, relative only to your “success” or “failure”. Perfectionism deceives us so we believe failure is personal, not universal. Perfectionism is a giant ink blot on a clean page of confidence, making it difficult to focus on all of the good because of one thing that isn’t quite right. I’ve let the conniving demon of perfectionism stay in my head for years upon years and something now tells me I would have been just as strong, just as successful, without it. Probably even more.
I’m hitting a juncture where I want to find the sweet spot between confidence and sometimes-shit-just-happens. I know that if I have any chance of making the kind of strides I want to make in life, I need a larger margin for error. I need to welcome the rain, not run from it. Sometimes there is renewed confidence in welcoming the rain. Sometimes there is inspiration in welcoming the rain. Sometimes there is relief in welcoming the rain instead of fighting the storm.
I have a growing email thread with a blogger named Meagan. Meagan has picked my brain for ideas and in return, I have offered her the iota of insight I think I have. Last week we emailed and the last thing I said to her was, “Do not let anything get in your way. That includes yourself.” Now I have to be audacious enough to take my own advice.