My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Perfection’

It’s okay to be human

fear

It’s one of the first pieces of advice I can remember receiving — maybe my dad said it, or maybe I only imagine he did and ascribed the wisdom accordingly because I was little and when you’re little, you live in an insular world like that: “Don’t say you’re bad at something unless you’re going to try to be better at it.”

We live in a society that prides perfectionism as the be-all of virtues, and has bred generation after generation of people succumbing to its pressures. Everyone’s expected to scramble to rise to the top — we just never take the time to tell people which top that’s supposed to be. Of course, the unsaid there is to allow for room to decide exactly what that top is, where it is, what we define ourselves as the best. And when you’re a frustrated little kid who doesn’t understand why you can’t get something right on the first try, you’re bound to let out a few sentiments here and there about how you’re lamentably bad at something.

And as we grow up, we begin to learn that being bad at a few things isn’t awful — it’s human.

It’s refreshing to have flaws, and sometimes, it’s fun to be terrible at things, to revel in ridiculous karaoke sets and botched doodles, to laugh later over that time you tried to make a five course meal and wound up ordering tacos via Seamless as a Hail Mary. Being bad sometimes makes for the best stories. There’s freedom in admitting that your prowess can’t and won’t extend everywhere. There’s something refreshing in an adult who doesn’t just admit their shortcomings, but owns them.

But when kids are little, they’re also shuttled from class to class, sport to sport, extracurricular to playdate, and we begin to form ideas that we’re supposed to be the best at everything. The best friend, the best all-star, the best in science and English and the star of the school play and the kid with whom everyone else wants to trade their lunch. We’re told to excel, to never settle for second place — not just in what we love most of all, but in anything. In everything. Fault isn’t seen as natural strength and weakness, it’s seen as an Achilles’ heel to be rectified. We don’t embrace anything we’re not the best at. We sink in humiliation until we change or feign being at least slightly above average and overall okay. Often, we give up before we have the chance to be better. We write ourselves off before we try to see what we’re capable of.

Being “bad” at something doesn’t take away from the fact that it was your best effort.

Part of owning your flaws is admitting that maybe there’s space to get better. And besides, “bad” is a subjective perception. One person’s “bad” is another person’s extraordinary advancement. Regardless, it’s okay to be at a personal “bad” now and again. Virtuosos are rare, and anyway, they’ve got their own newly heightened standards to live up to and to beat. And for every Beethoven who composed his first masterwork when he was still stringing together how to read words on a page, there are untold hundreds of thousands of people who were crappy at first. Who couldn’t even dream of even so much as touching that sort of rare talent. But no matter how bad they were, they tried over and over. And that is how they got better.

Saying you’re bad at something isn’t the problem. That’s identifying where you have room to grow — so in fact, it’s good to admit it. Especially when what you’re measuring is your own improvement. The problem is getting caught in feeling bad without a desire to change, and what’s worse is having that desire, but not taking the next steps to change. The problem is accepting being “bad” as a limitation. As a sentence. As if there’s nothing in our power to right what we perceive to be “wrong.” And that’s simply not true. Saying you’re bad at something without action is, often enough, little more than wallowing.

Because at the end of the day, the only thing that’s really “bad” is our attitude about how we perceive ourselves.

And if we’re going to call it bad, then we’ve identified what we’d like to change — and it’s now up to us to decide to actually do something about it. To change how we perform, to change how we work, to practice, to change how we structure our day to appropriate our time as needed. Most of all: to change ourselves. And to change our idea of why we’ve been lead to believe “being bad” really is that bad. You can be bad at things sometimes. There’s nothing wrong in that. But dwelling on it will only make it worse. And complaining for the sake of self-pity will get you — and everyone else — absolutely nowhere.

Say you’re bad at something every now and again. Admit to being human. Revel in that if you want to. But don’t declare yourself personally dissatisfied with your ability unless you’re going to personally work to change that. It’s self-respecting at the end of the day, and everybody has to learn to take it for themselves. Or at least, from someone else — as I from my dad, and as, hopefully, you from me.

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Going with the “Flo”

Hey guys!

So I’ve got a question for ya…

Do you ever feel like you are just going with the flo?

No, not that Flo, silly billy.

Although can I just say…I NEED a pair of those slippers! And how dare that squirrel steal from that poor, poor chipmunk family. Justice indeed, Flo. Justice indeed.

Actually, the “flo” I am referring to is that certain feeling of being stuck in a rut, just kind of going through the motions of the ocean without stopping to smell the roses. WOW that was a lot of different analogies to throw at you all at once. And they all completely, 110% made sense, right? 😉

Yikes. I am going to apologize in advance for this post and the many, many brain farts that are sure to ensue. That is part of the reason I am bringing my girl Flo into this conversation. Don’t get me wrong; I am having a blast at work and am LOVING school! In fact, I just got back my grades for two major papers, the very first major papers of my grad school career, and kicked both of their, pardon my French, asses! I was a bit shocked; I didn’t know quite what to expect, seeing as the Master’s program is a whole other ballgame from my college days. You can imagine how excited I was (there may or may not have been some serious M.C. Hammer happy dancing going on in my house, and that was just the dog).

While I love school, I think that sometimes I put too much emphasis on grades and how well I do. I had the same problem when I was in college; I was so focused on doing my best (and in my mind, “best” equaled “4.0 or bust”) that I really missed out on the whole college experience a bit. As you all know, I am a slight perfectionist.

Okay. I am a HUGE perfectionist. The biggest. And while I have come a long way from where I used to be in that area (A LOOOONNNNGGGG WAY), not putting so much pressure on myself and throwing myself a bone ever once in a while, which we should all do, I still have this inner-need to do well, to tackle it all. I like challenging myself, stretching my boundaries and knowing that at the end of the day, I accomplished all that I set out to do and then some.

What have I always preached to you guys over and over? Moderation is key. Except when it comes to ice cream and in that case, just go ahead and throw away the key because you all know you can never have too much of the cold and creamy deliciousness that is Rocky Road or Cookies and Cream.

While all of these attributes are great to have, even commendable,  they can prove to be detrimental if used to excess. Case in point: the current runt that I have fallen into. For the last few weeks, it seems like all I do is homework, work, read my text books/take notes, work, take a test, work. I realize that this time last year, I was begging for this ‘busy-ness”, this sense of doing something and being productive. And I also realize that jam-packed days and long nights come with the territory of being an employed full-time student. What I need to start realizing however that just because I am doing those things, doesn’t mean I have to let it consume my life.

I cannot just sit back and let life pass me by, gosh darn it. Instead of just going with the flow, I have to start directing it. That may mean setting a time limit for school work during the day, politely declining to cover nonscheduled shifts at work if I just don’t have the time (that is going to be a toughy for me because I HATE saying no) and calandaring in “Me” time at least once a week (sitting down to read a non-text book book, hanging out with friends, watching trashy TV, going out for ice cream, etc.).

I know I have said before how important it is to not carried away with the small things in life, the things like work, grades and money that at the end of the day, won’t mean a peanut butter covered pickle in the grand schemes of things. And I know that I have struggled to follow my own advice in doing so, but I don’t want to take for granted another missed opportunity to really enjoy life.

Let’s all pinky promise that we will stop and smell the roses as often as we can. Just maybe not the ones in Mrs. Habersham’s front yard lest you want to face the wrath of her garden hose. (I’m sorry Mrs. Habersham).

So what do you say?!

Are you with me?!

Questions of the day:

Have any of you ever been perfectionists?

Do you have a hard time balancing work/school/fun time?

What kinds of things do you like to do to chillax?

10 Things I Hate About Me

1. I HATE that I still sleep with my childhood ‘blankie’. Every night. Linus isn’t the only one who finds comfort in a holey, worn-out, soft and fluffy 24 year old piece of fabric.

2. I HATE that I always keep a bag of Peanut M&M’s on my bedside table, just in case the midnight munchies decide to sneak-attack me and I need a quick chocolate fix. I HATE that sometimes, I wake up looking like Picasso went crazy with a paint brush on my leg, a byproduct of accidentally dropping a chocolately candy piece or two in bed, shmooshed and melted goodness. I HATE that I find said shmooshed and melted Peanut M&M in the morning. And eat it.

3. I HATE that I keep…a spoon in my purse? You never know when you run into an IICS: an irrisistable ice cream situation.

4. I HATE that my wardrobe basically consists of Brewer apparel, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes.

5. I HATE that the one and only Kozmo Kramer is one of my heros. I HATE that he is the last person I see before I go to bed and the first person a see when I hit the snooze button, I mean wake up, in the morning (his beautiful mug is hung on my bedroom wall.)

6. I HATE that I wore mismatched socks all day today. And yesterday. Just because I was too lazy to find the correct pairings. I HATE that I just realized that most of my socks are holey. Great for going to church in though. I HATE that that was probably the corniest joke of all time 😉

7. I HATE that one of my favorite things in the whole wide world to eat is this. I HATE that waiters/waitresses don’t bat an eyelash when I order this off of the coloring book page of a kids’ menu (aren’t those the best though?! What a way to pass the time before your food arrives!) because they think I am still 12.

8. I HATE that I can’t help but get a little faklempt EVERY TIME I watch this. Okay, a lot faklempt. I’m talking grab-the-tissues, snot-blowing, ugly-crying faklmept. It’s not pretty.

Or this.

Or this.

9. I HATE that I cannot, for the life of me, do a cartwheel.

10. I HATE that I love all of these things about me. I am NOT perfect. Not by a long shot. But you know what, that is quite all right. For it is in these imperfections that you find character, uniqueness, and personality. It is in these imperfections that you find you. So go ahead. Be silly. Be goofy. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at yourself for laughing at yourself. I promise it will be something you love to hate to do!

Question of the Day: What are some of the things you love to hate about yourself?

Perfecting Imperfection

Happy hump day my lovely peeps!

How was everyone’s Wednesday? Good, I surely hope 🙂

Today I found myself in somewhat of a hairy situation, pun intended. You see, today I attempted to french braid my hair.

Now for someone who usually throws her tresses back in a pony and calls it good, this was somewhat of a big dealio. I had managed to master the art of doing the double french braid a long time ago (two french braids which hang in a pigtail-like fashion) but for some reason, had never been as successful with the single french braid. Every time I try to do it, it always without fail ends up looking like a giant birds nest of tangles and flyaways going every which way…that is, every which way but in the way they were supposed to.

I spent a good 45 minutes standing in front of my bathroom mirror, twisting and turning my hair, trying to get that perfect tight but too tight look. After getting about halfway through, I gave up and would start all over. I think I did this about five or six times, getting so close but having to start over every time I got a bump or a piece of hair that would give me attitude and not do what I wanted it to do.

Ugh.

I stood there frustrated beyond all end. Why was this so difficult? And I’m not just talking about braiding my hair.

Why did I always have to have every thing so perfect?

Why did I constantly put so much pressure on myself to be the ‘best’, to be on my A+ game all the time, to never fault or make a mistake? Why couldn’t I just give myself credit every once in a while? Geesh!

It’s funny how we often fail to perceive ourselves the way we do others.

I love my friends and family, despite their imperfections. In fact, I love them because of their imperfections. I think the way my dog has an incessant need to pee while he walks disgustingly cute, even when he does manage to hit the top of my shoe in the process. I love the way my dad falls asleep sometimes on the couch while still holding the remote control in his hands or how whenever my mom texts me, I have to go into Indiana Jones mode to decipher her cryptic messages (even with autocorrect those things are ca-razy sometimes!). I love my family and friend’s imperfections.

So why don’t I allow the same acceptance for myself? Why do I uphold myself to unrealistic standards that I don’t expect from anyone else? To tell you the truth, being around people who seem to be “perfect” is kind of annoying. They radiate an aura of entitlement and superiority that’s extremely off-putting. Why would I want to be like that?

The thing is, I don’t want to be like that, I don’t want to be perfect, and it’s times like these when I sit down and write that I acknowledge that. I think I get caught up in the idea of perfectionism, so I strive for it, even if it’s not necessarily what I want.

I become kind of corrupted by the idea that in order to be “perfect“, I can’t “allow” myself to have an ‘off’ moment. I can’t put myself out there because what if I get rejected or turned down? I can’t eat that oh so delicious double-cheeseburger and french fries because those aren’t the healthiest options on the menu and to be perfect, I should only allow myself what was healthy. I can never ask for help because perfect people can do everything on their own. This journey of my recovery should be easy-peesy, lemon squeezy, no stumbles or potholes or surprises along the way, because what kind of a perfect recovery would that be? I can’t even wear my hair in braided mess because a braided mess is not, well, perfect.

AHHHH!!!

But like I said, I don’t want to be perfect.

You can’t control what others may think of you or how they treat you. Striving for this non-obtainable perfection will not get you any higher in their eyes. In fact, it might deter you more than if you took your shortcomings with stride.

What you can do, is treat yourself the way you treat others. I’ve heard this many times before, but have not fully grasped how powerful this suggestion is, and can be. Every once in a while, you need to give yourself a pat on the back, a high-five, a fist pump and a chest bump. Acknowledge how great you really are, imperfections in all. For it is in those imperfections that you derive character and uniqueness. It is in those imperfections that give you the tenacity to do well and learn from your mistakes. It is in those very imperfections that make you the amazing and spectacular person you are.

I’ve been on a serious mission to stop putting so much darn pressure on myself, to start accepting and loving myself for who I am, imperfect french braids and all. I am finally realizing that ‘perfect’ is a word I no longer want to have in my Rolodex, my dictionary, my vocab. Unless it is describing me as perfectly imperfect.

I am perfecting imperfection.

and so can you.

If you allow yourself.

I promise that made sense.

So after my legs were about to go numb from standing so long and my hands had a cramp the size of the moon (can you even compare the size of cramps to the moon? It sounds impressive so I think I’ll just run with that), I finally did it! I kind of created a french braid. Although it was a bit messy. And a tad bumpy. And okay, maybe it zigzagged a little in the back and had a few pieces of hair missing. it wasn’t perfect, but you know what…I liked it even more because of the fact.

Perfecting imperfection.

Now that is something I can strive for!

🙂

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