Like a Cat Chasing Its Tail But Just Not Interested In It Anymore
Ah. The ever-elusive Perfection. I wish someone would have told me that decades ago…the fact that perfection is mostly unattainable. (I say mostly because I always believe you should never say never.) Had I have known that perfection is in the eye of the beholder in my younger, and not so younger years, I would have likely saved myself a LOT of time and worry. Now, it’s not that that time was wasted, as I don’t believe in ‘wasted’ time, just that I could have been doing other things in lieu of ‘chasing my own tail’, so to speak.
Sure, we have moments of pure glory in life, and I have been fortunate to have some of those very instances myself, but it would be rare to say that they are ever PERFECT. Our pursuit of perfection usually has to do with others as opposed to ourselves. Often, we want to be perfect to be liked, to please, or at the very least to be acknowledged in some way. When you finally learn (and by that, I mean really, truly believe) that you, and only you, can decide for yourself what is right and/or what is good depsite or because of others, the idea of perfection seems to fade. Usually we don’t have an innate need to be perfect (keep in mind that this is being typed out right now from one who is/was/learning-not-to-be? a self-proclaimed perfectionist), rather we have an innate need to be accepted and loved for who we are. And, that to me, is at the heart of perfectionism–when we have a tendency to get in our own way, so that we don’t have to expose our vulnerabilities or imperfections to those around us at the risk of not being liked or accepted.
The movie, “Good Will Hunting” with Matt Damon (Will) and Robin Williams (Sean, the Dr.) portrays the notion of one’s imperfections perfectly (yes, I get the irony in saying so), which my husband and I just so happened to have watched on TV the other night. In one of Will and Sean’s therapy sessions (Will being a messed up, but brilliant kid from South Boston), Sean alludes to the fact that Will’s problem is that he uses his brilliance and book smarts to spews out all kinds of facts, etc. to impress others, all the while keeping himself at an arm’s length to others in case they were to discover that he is not all that ‘perfect’, in turn possibly rejecting him the same way he was rejected and abused as a kid by his father. Sean then shares that it was his own wife’s idiosyncrasies or imperfections that were the real gems of their relationship–‘the good stuff’, I believe he said. Not that I quote movies often, but I think Robin William’s character was onto something for sure. I know it, at arm’s length, to be true of myself up until quite recently.
My unspoken, subconscious tenet was to play it safe, you know…keep guarded, so that I wouldn’t get hurt. I mean, you can’t get hurt in life if you don’t put yourself out there, right? Well, good theory, but bad practice for exactly that reason. If you don’t put yourself out there, then you are not truly living life…or taking chances that might lead to who knows what? I’m sure that you have heard of the saying wherein people agree that regrets in life are not in the opportunities taken, but in the ones NOT taken. “The Road Not Taken” and all that jazz. When I came to the realization that I was literally and figuratively getting in my own way on purpose to keep myself ‘safe’ (whatever that is), I also did not allow myself to really experience life, love and everything in between and you know what?! I was sick of it! Sick of missed chances and sick of the stupid wall that I lived behind. Sick of myself. Why? What for? Where had it gotten me? Not that I didn’t learn a lot about myself along the way, I just never allowed myself to be. To be me. You know what I mean?! Simply put, I wasn’t living life authentically.
Ironically, it was almost six years ago to the day when I finally decided to surrender to the life that I wanted to live for me, not for others, and I have not looked back since. Has it been perfect? No, but it has been pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Oh, trust me, I’ve had inklings of past ways creep back into my life every now and again, but they have been just that…inklings…fleeting thoughts/feelings. I will never go all the way back. Never. (So much for never saying never, though I never said that I was perfect, did I? He. he.) It’s been too much fun, too good on the other side:-) To quote a movie for the second time, Tim Robbins’ character in “The Shawshank Redemption” said, “You either get busy living or get busy dying.” I bet you can guess which one I chose. Which one have you chosen for yourself?