The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.
It came as a complete surprise when I realized that I was a perfectionist. I had been told before, in jest, that I was a perfectionist. But I always shook it off and said, “no way”. I am far from perfect nor do I care to be perfect…or so I thought. But perfectionism is not about being a perfect person, it is striving to be perfect. That is the trap.
How can anyone live up to perfection? Oh you try, and try, and try. But it is just like beating your head against a wall constantly. One mistake and you go down a deep, dark hole….trying to claw your way back out exhausted and bruised. And just when you do see the light of day, after working so hard at this perfection, you again make a mistake or someone points out your imperfection or you beat yourself up for not making it to perfection….and once again you slide back down depressed, broken and back to clawing your way up again.
And just when I think I have this trap beaten, and I have made it beyond the dark hole, I find I have only fooled myself into thinking I am OK with not being perfect….and down I go again. Except this time procrastination shows up.
I have been a lifelong procrastinator…I just thought it was part of me…something I could not overcome. Until recently I learned procrastination comes from fear. OK so what have I been fearing for so long….yes you guessed it…..drum roll please….perfection was my fear. So if I never try and only talk about the wish list, the hopes and dreams, then I can never fail. Excuses and avoidance are then my mantra, instead of striving and thriving.
And what I realized was in this avoidance, I had put my life on hold. So how to balance this striving with perfection…well that is what I am working on presently. Just recognizing I have been in this dark hole has helped me to climb all the way out finally. When I find myself slipping down again, I grab hold and plant my feet firmly on the ground like a root grabbing onto the firm earth. Then I face the howling wind and hang on.
It is a choice to live or merely exist. So these days, I am choosing to live. A walk around the garden in my bare feet or sandals. Watching the sunset. Capturing in pictures every new bloom and critter that shows up in the garden. Walking in the rain. Listening to the birdsong in daytime and frogs at night. Laying on the grass watching the clouds, and sitting outside in the quiet still darkness to gaze at the heaven’s and marvel at the stars. Dancing and singing to music instead of whiling away the hours on mindless TV or the internet. Making one new bold excursion to explore a space or place around my neighborhood. Savoring the smells and flavors of new restaurant. In all these things, I am thriving…. making time to play and revitalize, not so focused on the to do list anymore.
Note: The Chrysanthemum pictured here represents perfection. The Japanese see perfection in the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals.
Update 6 months later:
This post was originally published on June 3, 2014 in Vision and Verb. This revelation about myself was a curious observation, and serendipitous. It has served me well to not be so focused on the To Do list anymore. One that has been instrumental in my healing time since retiring.
This is the last of my Vision and Verb posts that I am sharing here as the year comes to a close. I hoped you enjoyed these special posts. And I will moving into a new mantra and word for the year soon which will help focus my writing again.
I leave you with another thought about perfection. Feel free to download the photo and share.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.