I have a problem.
I think I need to be perfect.
The interesting twist is that this idea is nothing that has been imposed upon me by society, family members, or other outside influences. You constantly hear about how society needs to stop pushing its ideas of who we should or shouldn't be.
But what to do if this is some idea that I have concocted and enforced upon myself?
My long-time readers and friends will know that I have had a life-long struggle with fitness or lack thereof. But now that I have had everything under control for a few years, "body image" is not the source of my perfectly distorted imposition of perfection.
So what is it?
I've always been that child whose parents didn't need to punish her - I was tougher on myself than they ever were. I've always been the over achiever smarty pants. Whenever I have decided to do something in my life, there is no turning back - I do it and I do it perfectly. Sure, I took three years to pick my major in college, but once I did, I went so far as to be one of only 3 Public Relations students accepted to the New York City Internship program. Sure, I didn't start gymnastics until I was 12, but once I started, I had earned a place on the team within 6 months. Sure, I didn't desire to be in show choir until my junior year, but I made it my first audition. Sure, my company didn't do an "employee of the year" award until I'd been here almost 4 years, but as soon as they awarded one, that baby was mine.
Are you seeing a trend here? Yeah. Me too.
I've always thought I was simply driven, motivated, dedicated, passionate, and all of those other synonyms. I've always obeyed authority and laws and regulations and even just signs...yeah I'm one of those who won't walk a step past a "do not trespass sign." So silly. I've always looked at others and thought, "It is okay for them to make mistakes, but not me." I never once judged another person for the same mistakes I beat myself up over. Recently, something absolutely inconsequential happened that tarnished my perfect record in my mind. I made a mistake. A mistake I couldn't explain or displace blame. Just a normal, human mistake. My image of myself shattered - who would people think I am if I'm not perfect - who am I?!
I all of a sudden saw myself from a distance. I wanted to slap myself and say, "Are you SERIOUS right now? Is this a big deal AT ALL? Life happens!" All those times I've been worried about being late because someone may think less of me, all those times I couldn't sleep because I worried I'd said something that would make someone perceive me as unintelligent, all of those times I was disgusted with myself on a clumsy day when I seemed to drop or run into everything and worried others may not respect me if they knew, all of those times I skipped the gym and thought I was a failure for missing a commitment...all of those times....all of those times...
THEY DON'T MATTER!
My life is wonderful. I have been blessed beyond anything I ever could have dreamed of as a child. I have a family who love me, friends who would drop anything for me, health that stays with me in spite of what genetics threaten me with, fitness that improves daily, skills, intelligence...my life is sunshine, lollipops and rainbows!
Why am I so worried all the time? For the love of everything good and decent, I need to stop it. I want to stop it. My friend Dennis has this sign he gives me when I need to calm down that I picture more and more recently.
I have a goal to be less perfect. I have a goal to embrace my mistakes. I have a goal to laugh a whole lot more about life. I have a goal to walk past a "do not trespass" sign. I have a goal to purposefully make a mess in the kitchen...and leave it there for more than five minutes.
Life is joyful. I am going to live it as such. If you see yourself in any of what I've just shared, please, let's make a little pact: stop worrying, bask in imperfection, enjoy life more.
One of my favorite quotes:
Get on the Path: The Way to Perfection
(From an address by Bruce R. McConkie, "The Probationary Test of Mortality."
delivered at the University of Utah Jan. 10, 1982)
We don't need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved.You don't. There's only been one perfect person, and that's the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality,what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path – thus charting a course leading to eternal life – and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship. I'm not saying that you don't have to keep the commandments.I'm saying you don't have to be perfect to be saved. If you did, no one would be saved. The way it operates is this: You get on the path that's named the "straight and narrow." You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward that's called eternal life. If you're on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you'll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you're working zealously in this life – though you haven't fully overcome the world and you haven't done all you hoped you might do – you're still going to be saved. You don't have to do what Jacob said, "Go beyond the mark." You don't have to live a life that's truer than true. You don't have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do isstay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church – keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you're on that path when death comes – because this is the time and the day appointed, this is the probationary estate – you'll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure.
Don't worry about what others think of you when you're not perfect. It makes you seem actually normal, and well, mortal... and we love you for it. :)
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