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Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Finding The Perfection In Imperfection


There is so much that I want to write here that it is hard to get my thoughts into a logical order, but I'll certainly try. I've just finished a counselling session, one which I thought would be very different to what it was. After three sessions of mostly positive thinking, I had gone into this latest one feeling considerably more negative and certainly not satisfied with how the past few weeks had gone. In previous weeks I discussed with pride how well I was managing, and the same couldn't be said of today.

How wrong I was. What started as a recounting in which I was almost in tears, I ended up smiling. He has a magical way of making me feel proud of the smallest achievements, whilst acknowledging what has happened in my week. Perhaps I'll write a whole post about my journey with counselling, but for now just know that I left bursting with ideas and a lot happier than when I went in.

What we discussed, and what I desperately want to convey to you here, is about perfectionism. Now I hate the term because so often it's used in a flattering way when I find the reality to be a constant sense of low lingering disappointment. My previous counsellor called it 'Unrelenting High Standards', a term that I feels captures some of the stress of never living up to the impossible. Because that's what perfection is: impossible.

I have long set these standards upon myself, which has sometimes served me well. I am known for being a hard worker because I can't bear to produce anything that is less than a level that I am happy with. I fear the disapproval of others so strongly that it spurs me on to work harder and harder, hoping to always satisfy in every realm of my life. So much of my success can be attributed to this phenomenon that learning to let go a little was, quite frankly, terrifying. But the constant pressure was also crippling, and so I have spent a long time trying to be okay with that bit less, a fact that I now acknowledge with some pride.

Of course such perfectionism still rears it's ugly head from time to time, and so my frustrations led us down a path in which he suggested to me that sometimes imperfection is better. Using a recent video I had made as an example, he showed me how the simplicity of my work (and let's be honest, the simplicity was due to the limits of my skill set) helped me effectively communicate the message. Had it been more sophisticated, perhaps the sentiment would have been lost. What was more important: the creation, or the communication? (Clue: I work for the Health Promotion Office, not the Talent Promotion Office. People wanting to get better sleep is more important than the style, put it that way).

It's not a way of looking at the world that I have ever encountered before, but I love it. Nothing is truly perfect in these complicated, messy lives that we lead, and so it feels like a reframing which will not sacrifice hard work, but instead celebrates it. After all I should do my best, but it's okay if my best doesn't quite reach those dizzying heights that I dream of.

Because I never want to learn a lesson without putting it to the test, I used this as an opportunity to post a picture from a few weeks back that I had loved but in which my stomach was, shall we say, more prominent than I would have liked. No matter that my ear to ear grin radiated out from the photo as I sat a top a giant fucking (sorry) inflatable unicorn, I let a little bit of podge stop me sharing it with the world. Of course as soon as I posted it on Instagram friends and strangers left wonderful comments, but even if they hadn't I still would have put it out there with pride. I am human, with human skin marked from years of living, and human fat from sharing pizzas with my co-workers on Saturday nights, and a great big human sized laugh from a wonderful pool day with my best friend. If that isn't perfection, then I don't know what is. 

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2 comments:

  1. This is absolutely beautifully put! You are so right in that the beauty of happiness and content and pride is way more powerful than any sort of 'society beautiful' and I strongly believe that perfection comes from when you are happy within yourself for all the hard work you do for yourself.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us - and tbh you are bloody gorgeous so never think otherwise ok?

    Josie // JosieVictoriaa

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  2. I am so completely in love with this post! Liza, you are AMAZING. It's so true that perfectionism is seen as this skill that only the detail-oriented, talented people have. It's used in job interviews when discussing strengths. But in the words of one of our favourite women, Liz Gilbert, perfectionism is really just fear disguised in fancy shoes. It holds us back from creating things. It holds us back from living. It's so difficult to begin something with that mindset, because you already lost the battle. There is no way to meet those expectations you set for yourself.

    Learning that is still a challenge for me, but I'm starting to reframe the need for things to be perfect to "Better done than good."

    I also love how you mentioned the purpose of the message. You are SO right because the more complicated, dressed up, and fancy you make things, the more hidden the message becomes. It applies to writing as well. Our desire to put big words on a page to appear "smarter" or "more intelligent than we actually are" tends to get in the way of what we're actually trying to say. I say those things in quotations because it tends to be the doubt in ourselves, our feelings of not being enough that gets in the way. In trying so hard to cover up what we feel we are lacking, we tend to cover up the messages we're trying to send as well. For instance, how are people going to understand the post you just wrote if they have to google the definition of half the words you use in it? This can really apply to anything in life. Simplicity is always the answer. I love it and I love your honesty and I love that I can always find myself relating to the way you write and the person that you are. <3

    Misha K | www.mishakhan.com

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts with me. I read and reply to each and every one.

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