The first title of this blog post was, “Confessions of an ex-Perfectionist”, but I changed it because that would be a lie. I liken perfectionism to addiction–you never really give it up, you just learn to live with the longing, to talk yourself out of it, to appreciate who you are more without it than who you are with it.
I am still a perfectionist. I still spend far more time than I would ever publicly admit harping on the things about myself I wish were better, thinner, more toned, more eloquent…the list continues.
I wish the prospect of doing my hair wasn’t so wholly overwhelming, or I just cared enough to make the time to blow dry it. I wish I liked wearing makeup, but to be honest I think I’m pretty without it–and when I do wear it everyone thinks I’m up to something. I wish I could be more naturally extroverted, and not so daunted by the prospect of socializing in big groups. I am an introvert; I’m nice, well spoken, and friendly, but large groups of people really do overwhelm me and make me uncomfortable. If you find me in a large group and I look like I want to crawl under a table, it’s not you, it’s me. I wish, I really wish, I wasn’t so incredibly crappy at confrontation. I wish I was a more savvy shopper, more demonstrative, a better letter writer, a more adventurous eater…
I wish a lot of things about myself, but the difference between who I am now and who I was a few years ago is that I’m no longer trying to tackle my “I wish I…” list as my to do list. I’m always on the path of self-improvement, that’s a given, the need to be a better version of myself is as much a part of me as my green eyes or enormous feet. But, I have come to accept the things about myself that will never change. I will never be tall and willowy. I will always be short, and when I’m in my most awesome physical shape, I am still short–and muscular. The thinnest I will ever be is a size 8. Perhaps a size 6 if the brand runs big. I will never fit into sample sizes. That’s okay, because I’m not trendy enough to wear the clothes that are “sampled.”
In my ripe old age, and recovery, here are a few of the things I know to be true:
- It doesn’t matter how much weight you plan to lose or plan to gain, always have a few items of clothes that fit you well in the size you are. When you look good, you feel good. When you’re losing circulation to your lower extremities because your pants are too tight–you feel terrible and say mean things to yourself.
- Cut the tags out. Who cares what size it is, if you already own it, it’s yours–wear what looks good.
- Wearing sweatpants in public is only acceptable if you’re in college or at the gym. Trust me on this, I’ve learned from experience.
- Allow yourself the freedom to change your mind. We put so much pressure on ourselves and one another to know exactly who we are and what we want and to go out there and do it–but we change, things don’t work out, they’re not what we thought they would be, or we outgrow them. It’s okay to say that you don’t want it,whatever your it is, anymore.
- You are not the mistakes you have made. We all make mistakes. Big mistakes. Huge. Painful. Mistakes. Your mistakes don’t define you, you are human and everyone else has made their share, too. If you run up against someone who hasn’t, they’re lying…and they’re a jerk, kick them in the shins–it’s not a mistake.
- People will believe you when you tell them who you are, be careful to tell them you are someone you actually want to or can be.
- There are no perfect people to fall in love with, but there are a whole lot of perfect moments with one perfect-for-you imperfect person.
- Whatever a person is most judgmental about in others, is what they’re most self-conscious about in themselves.
- Just being yourself is hard, it opens you up to judgement. It’s far easier to hide behind protocol and expectation, but it’s really hard to get to know people who always say and do the right thing, people who seem to have the perfect life. We, as humans, bond over the crappy stuff. There is beauty to be had in vulnerability, and what’s more vulnerable than letting people see who you really are?
- The people who love you love you no matter what. That’s a pretty amazing feeling. Love them no matter what, too.
I swear, my next book is not going to be a self-help manual, but I have learned a lot about myself in the last few years, and I’ve learned a lot about the world. Coming to terms with and appreciating my own imperfections is one of them. The imperfect nature of the world is another. I suspect if I were to revisit this list next year I would have a few more nuggets to add.
What have you learned about life that you didn’t always know?