A message from The Good Life…
I don’t think I’m the only person in the world ever to have struggled to live up to unrealistic expectations?? To strive endlessly to achieve perfection in all areas of life? To get the perfect grades, to have the perfect home, the perfect career, the perfect body. ..
For years I beat myself up every single time anything didn’t quite live up to my own, very high, standards. A spelling mistake in a thoroughly checked email, a run that took me 30 seconds longer than it had the day before, a stutter when telling a story to friends or a sunken Victoria Sponge (yep, it even happens to a baker!). Living life was like being in the ring with Mike Tyson, knock out round after knock out round meant that I was constantly stumbling from one task to the next; always starting on the back foot, with two black eyes and a swollen lip.
But then one day, not too long ago, a series of unfortunate events (sorry for that blatant use of your wonderful title there Lemony Snicket) occurred and a life changing revelation befell me…
‘sometimes just enough is good enough’
Needless to say, I had never managed to achieved it, that illusive beast that we call, ’perfection’. No amount of exercise and dieting (or years suffering from an eventual eating disorder) ever resulted in me awarding myself a great, big, double thumbs up when looking in the mirror. I got good grades but fear I aged myself about 20 years or so in the process of getting them. As for career, well let’s just say that’s been a journey… a journey that is still ongoing and although I now live in a beautiful house, my apparent inability to undertake any task, no matter how minor, without creating a tornado’s worth of mess, means that my dwelling place is often more shambolic than show home in status. So you can imagine what a relief it was to learn that sometime (all the time in fact), just enough is good enough.
Back when Mike and I used to do our daily dance, I would’ve been MORTIFIED to admit the above. Admitting failure was second only to the failing itself. I wanted to be perfect. To be that angelic soul that does no wrong, has endless time and energy for others and never, ever makes even the slightest of mistakes.
The only problem was that, despite my best attempts, I made mistakes, (for example) I decided that sleeping less was the only sure fire way of making more time in the day and, as a result, I ran out of energy pretty quickly.
I mentioned above that my revelation was a result of a series of unfortunate events and, in truth, they were. They unfolded as a result of my burnout and deterioration into a shell of my former self but, once set in motion, offered a staged recovery that proved to restore me to a higher status than before.
Stage 1. I realised that I was fallible. Shock, horror and gasp. I wasn’t and would never be, perfect.
Stage 2. I learnt to ask for (and accept) help from other people. I went to see a therapist (a particularly wonderful one – drop me an email for his details) which was enlightening beyond belief and also opened the doors in my mind to enable me to truly admit weakness and accept support from my wonderful friends and family.
Stage 3. I identified my demons and challenged them to a show down. More about these later (in future blog posts) but it’s important to say here that one of my strongest opponents was, you’ve guessed it, perfectionism.
Stage 4. All that practise in the ring meant one thing (I’m not even going to try to apologise for that rhyme), when it came to fighting demons… I could win.
Thank goodness for that slip-and-slide ride down to the bottom of my energy reserves – for, you see, if i had never reached that point, I would never have learnt my lessons and, since mooring my boat firmly here on the light side; I have so much more energy, a renewed zest for life and an absolute passion for sharing the ultimate secret…
‘sometimes just enough is good enough’
No one is perfect. And it’s of upmost importance that we all realise this as soon as possible. Some humans like to pretend that they are – I’m thinking celebrities, your Great Aunt Gwen (seriously, 98 and not a hair out of place?!) and that angelic woman at work who never partakes in office gossip, volunteers at the weekend and says ‘golly gosh’ when stubbing her immaculately manicured little toe on the corner of her impeccably organised desk.
But not all angels are perfect… You don’t need an untarnished record to get your wings (shout out to my Aunty Kaye and all those Christmases spent watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – ahhh Clarence!) you just have to resolve to stay true to yourself and make the most of your journey.
So to all the other winged beauties out there, stretching their training wings for the first time and setting course on their own direction; l want to say this… it’s OK not to be perfect. Know you demons and know that, in the fight against them, you will win. Ask for help when you need it, give yourself a big pat on the back for getting this far and always, always be proud of your crooked halo.