I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but I couldn't quite find the words until now. Does that ever happen to you?
So just before I went to Shanghai I bought an Instax, and I love it. I had been toying with the idea for ages but couldn't quite bring myself to do it, and I'm really glad I did. The polaroids are dotted around my room and this collection of memories are making me happy, especially as I try and get snaps with people as I say goodbye to them. It's a beautiful reminder of our time together.
That being said, I'm not actually very good at taking them. I'm still figuring out the brightness settings (even though it tells you which to do) so a bunch of them are either too dark or too light. In honesty most don't fall in that perfectly lit middle spot. They're imperfect memories. Do you see the larger life metaphor coming?
A self-confessed perfectionist, I place high standards in a lot of my life. Not all of it (the state of my room right now would make anyone who loves cleanliness cry) but in significant areas. In some ways this is a good thing – I overachieve because I place such high standards on myself – but it also can backfire somewhat. Especially when it comes to last times: I want it to be perfect, as if that last time was fully representative of the whole. If the last time isn't perfect, doesn't that mean the whole experience was terrible? There's been a lot of lasts lately and the pressure I feel to make each one perfect is in danger of marring my enjoyment.
Imperfection is perfection to a beautiful perspective.
I'm trying to loosen up. I'm trying to recognise that the final experience doesn't speak to the larger one. Sure I remember my last few days in New York, but they're not the memories that come flooding back when I think of my two summers there. Ditto Paris and Ghana. At the time I remember feeling that same pressure, the overwhelming desire to squeeze in all the things I hadn't done into a few short hours. But did that time make the difference when the overall experience was so wonderful?
It's natural to want things to be as good as possible, but imperfect memories hold their own beauty. The underexposed and overexposed snapshots that line my wall still hold the smiles and giggles as we posed for the camera. The time I've had here was still wonderful and difficult and thrilling, even if the last week doesn't live up to my narrow definition. Goodbyes don't speak to the friendships I've had, they're just a tiny part of that person's and my relationship. This pressure is only hurting me, and I'm fighting back every day.
It's an emotional rollercoaster, this whole graduation thing. But I feel like I've learnt so much about who I am and how I think, and it's pretty cool that I can apply lessons that I've learnt these last four years to my experience now. I'm embracing imperfect memories, even though it goes against my natural inclination. Because life is imperfect, but that doesn't make it any less magical.