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.