I used to be a massive perfectionist. I could never rest, never relax, never have down time, never have fun. Never stop. To stop meant I could no longer run, no longer escape. And the thought of standing still, and having to acknowledge the things that silently ate away at me beneath the surface, was nothing short of terrifying.
Busyness was the vice I chose to numb my pain. It served my mask of perfectionism well. But being busy is no different from any other vice we use to detach ourselves from life a little – drinking, gambling, shopping, gaming, eating, whatever. Except, society has made busyness an acceptable vice, if not a glorified one.
The busiest person wins.
When really, our busyness, our perfectionism, our performing, is just another way we hide the shame that we’re not good enough. We think if we keep busy we won’t notice the ways we fall short, fail, disappoint, can’t keep up. We won’t notice our inadequacies. We won’t notice we’re not enough.
And we hope like hell no one else will notice either.
We fear if we aren’t accomplishing and achieving at all times then all we loathe about ourselves will be exposed and we’ll face criticism and rejection from others. We fear we’ll no longer be able to hide from the truth of how substandard we really are. How flawed. How imperfect.
Perfectionism is a slow death of the soul. It will kill our joy, our creativity, our peace, our ability to love those around us. We become servants to performance, slaves to our fear and shame. We live crippled by our comparisons and beliefs that no matter what we do, we will never be enough.
It took me years to recover from perfectionism. One of the most important things I have read, and continue to read, is this quote from Brené Brown:
“No matter what gets done, and how much is left undone, I am enough.”
Even though I have worked through my perfectionism, I still fall back into it at times, and need to be reminded of this often. Be reminded that my humanity, in all its inadequacy, is not shameful – but instead authentic and real and vulnerable and perfect.
Today two things happened.
My children went back to school after being home for two weeks of holidays.
And winter broke.
The longest goddamn miserable winter I can ever remember finally, finally broke in October. And it was glorious.
And as I stared down the barrel at my list of things to get done today – because OH MY GOD THERE WAS SO MUCH LOST WORK TIME TO MAKE UP FOR NOW THAT HOLIDAYS WERE FINISHED – I couldn’t do it.
I was so drained, so tired, so worn down still from having spent the holidays meeting the needs of others. I needed to revel in the sunshine. I needed to be refreshed. I needed to be renewed. I needed child-like joy. I needed nature. I needed to live fully in the wonder of the day. So I came here, to my favourite place, and found life again.
Life is too short to be busy, and too beautiful to be missed. Leave behind the things that hold you to your busy, to your performing, to your need to be perfect, and live. No matter what gets done, and how much is left undone, you are enough.