09.19.12 Truth & Wisdom
I recently read an article arguing that procrastinators are not actually lazy, but rather, they’re perfectionists. Reading that validated a lot of ruminations I’ve been dealing with. For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to be more accepting. Not of my friends or family, because I’ll take them with their flaws and love them unconditionally. Hell, I don’t even see their flaws sometimes. So why do I treat myself any differently? Why am I such a bitch to myself??
Well, I blame gymnastics. Whereas many sports start out with a zero and then award you with points for successes, gymnastics simply starts out with a perfect score (it used to be 10, now it’s changed) and deducts for all the “less perfect” things you do. How’s that for encouragement? To add insult to injury, the sport comes with all the body image baggage. As my coach once said, “The older girls really shouldn’t wear white-it makes them look big.” The funny thing is that being “older” meant that you were over the age of 14.
Now I don’t want to bash the sport entirely. It gave me discipline and confidence in myself. Gymnastics was something I was known for. I was the gymnast in school, not the girl who hung out at the mall or smoked cigarettes. And for that, I am grateful. But it also made me compulsive. I became a straight-A student (not a bad thing), but I also started being ridiculously hard on myself, especially at such a young age. I became obsessive about everything else too; my weight, my hair, my appearance, the way I came across to people, you name it. Maybe that was always in my nature and gymnastics just added fuel to the fire. But either way, it didn’t help. Health-related issues started popping up too, due to the stress I was putting on myself. I even got “self-induced mononucleosis.” Yep, most people get mono by smooching. But I got it by running myself into the ground.
Now that I’m in my thirties, I’ve realized that years of striving for perfection has paralyzed me in so many ways. When you’re a perfectionist, you don’t live in the now. You live the world that you hope to have when you’re perfect. And because of that, you many times end up doing nothing. But with the help of therapy, Eckhart Tolle books, adapting some Buddhist philosophy, and meeting a wonderful man who has given me a new perspective on life, I’ve changed my thinking. I still struggle sometimes, but I truly believe that it’s better to put something out into the world that’s less than perfect than to spend all of your time trying to get it right. And so I send this article, in all its un-perfectness, in hopes of connecting with someone who may have had the same experience. My advice to you…stop thinking, stop doubting. Tell your ego to shut the hell up. And just do it already.