“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
Starting this daily blog was an exercise in overcoming a perfectionist streak a mile wide and to the bone. Paralyzed by the idea that I could not do something perfectly, most of my goals were lost to fear. The list is so long that it defined my life. In my quest to find the kernel of happiness in every day, I realized that I had to let go of the perfect, because it was never going to happen the way I imagined, and it stood looming over my path to the life I wanted.
It is more than a decision to overlook, to look beyond. It is letting go, swinging with abandon from the trapeze without a net. The drive for perfection stems from the need or desire to have total control over outcomes. Ironically the need to feel in control ends up controlling us. Because I cannot control the outcome of an airline flight, I have a fear of flying. Because I needed to control the outcome of every group project, I took on the lion’s share of the work ensuring it was “perfect”. Last minute panic before the arrival of guests thinking I must have missed something; these and many more caused me to stop in my tracks. I didn’t fly, I stopped participating in group projects, I did not entertain. Did this make me happy?
Freeing myself from this need to control admittedly took a great deal of work to get to the root of it and then to slowly let go of the many threads I held tightly wound. The deepest fear was “what will people think”? Decades and decades of life taught me that most people are so wrapped up in themselves they hardly notice; the ones who do and are critical I most likely could not have pleased if there was a “perfect”, and the ones who notice and support, praise, lend a hand, make a joke, are cherished above all else. And truly, how arrogant of me to think I could control another’s thoughts!
Breaking free of the bonds of perfection has allowed me to explore new ideas, put myself and my thoughts out there for all to see and comment upon. It has renewed my sense of purpose when it comes to all the things I had given up on because I could not always be the all-star, it has given me permission to keep trying when I slip or fall. Letting go has added a quality of lightness to my life like no other, and that lightness transforms my attitude to one of joy and celebration. Now about that flying thing…..