“What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” –Anna Quindlen (Being Perfect)
I’m a perfectionist.
I doubt that this declaration comes as a surprise to most of you. You’ve probably encountered this less-than-desirable trait of mine while at work with me, or travelling with me, or sitting anywhere near the kitchen while I cook.
In my more rational moments, I know that I’m too hard on myself. Those moments used to come too few and far between, before the world smacked me upside the head–again–and reminded me that try as I might to attain perfection, certain things in life are just out of my control.
I’m not sure that I could call myself a recovering perfectionist just yet, but those moments of rationality come a little more frequently these days. I’d like to think that I’m becoming a little less obsessive, a little more realistic, and maybe even a little more forgiving of myself. It’s liberating to think about all the things that might make me happy if I don’t have to try to be perfect at them. (See, blogging and yoga.) It’s kind of exciting to think about starting that work of becoming myself.
But Anna Quindlen, my long-time idol, is right. It’s exciting–and scary. Without the decidedly unattainable goal of perfection, what drives me? What’s good enough? What grows in importance and rises among the priorities of my life–and what do I discard? And how did I make it this far without those answers?
I don’t have answers for most of those questions yet–except the last one. As I look back, I see that I’ve lived in a lot of absolutes; a black-and-white, all-or-nothing world. But now I’m moving into what I hope will be a happier world of gray, where absolute answers to those questions don’t exist. They’re mine to make up.
(In that case, is it bad if I just want to be Anna Quindlen? OK, maybe so. Back to the hard work.)