Monday, December 10, 2012
When I was asked to write on this topic by my good friends at Platform of Women, the first thing I did was start to plan how to write the perfect post on how to not be perfect all of the time. I even wrote it down, like a year five student who has been asked to present their work in a "first draft" (might I add, I didn't do a title page or draw a nice border with clouds around my draft... come on. I'm anal, not insane) But really, for me this is a really important subject - I daily struggle with how NOT to be seen as perfect and totally together all of the time.
I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 3.5 years. I did this whilst working as a development worker in a rural province in Cambodia where I am the only Westerner. When we broke up via skype, I was totally alone. But instead of losing my shit and crying ugly, ugly, snotty tears, I closed skype and went on facebook to post something glib about the challenges of living in a province... I never mentioned it to anyone for days. I didn't cry or rant or scream or clutch at my pillow because I didn't want to - I wanted to handle it perfectly. And for me, that means to stay in control and not let anyone see the cracks in my composure. A NORMAL PERSON would think "hey, a failed relationship! You're going to die alone! Cry now, damn it!" and this person would then ALLOW themselves to lose it, even if in front of their friends. But not me. And here's why - I think I don't want to disappoint anyone. As in, if I show people my frailty, perhaps my opinion will be worth less? I don't want to be seen as the emotional one who loses it and (dare I say it) can't be relied upon. That's a terrible amount of pressure for someone to put onto themselves wouldn't you say? Well yes it is.
And so, here I am with my TOP 5 SUGGESTIONS ON HOW NOT TO BE PERFECT (ALL OF THE TIME)
1. Stop Editing - I edit all of the time. Even when I don't need to. At my worst, I find myself reaching past my boyfriend, for the keyboard so I can correct his spelling mistake in his facebook post. No. That's bad. Stop it now. Just let it happen because everything will be fine. Only edit for really important work documents or guest blog posts.
2. Stop List making - I do this all of the time, because, God forbid I forget to accomplish a particular task. Don't get me wrong, there are days when a list will literally save your life, but there are days when you don't need a list at all. You know what you have to do. And if you don't get it all done, the world will not stop spinning. Just put the yellow legal pad down and back away from the list making... until it's absolutely necessary. (And yes, it WAS necessary in the context of writing a top 5 blog!)
3. Download shit music that you LOVE - now this might sound a bit out of left field, but I can't tell you how much music I've downloaded that I didn't like, just because someone else had told me I "needed" to have it. I hate Bjork - her voice is like nails on a blackboard to me. In my darkest hours, it's never going to be Kate Bush that I turn to. I don't even know if there is a cure to what the Cure does to my eardrums. But if I'm ever in need of something, I WILL turn to my old friends Beyonce, Frank Sinatra or Carly Rae sodding Jephsen because that's what makes me feel good! So that's my tip - download songs that you love because you love them and make your music just for you, as imperfect as your taste may be.
4. Say no sometimes - If I was to ruminate on one of my greatest fears it would be that my friends decide not to like me any more. Stupid really, once I say it out loud, but true none-the-less. I get tremendous personal satisfaction from my friends and I will literally bend over backwards to satisfy them. So I run my life to a fairly tight schedule - Saturday gym, followed by brunch w friend, followed by boyfriend time, followed by coffee w friend, followed by evening drinks w friend, followed by movie w friend, followed by... you get the picture. So here's the tip - say no to an invite every once and a while because, guess what, you're not superwoman and you cannot control time. Give yourself enough time to actually stop and relax on your weekend! Besides, you have the latest Beyonce documentary to watch....
5. Some people Will not like you - Accept this fact and move on. This is a BIG tip and my amateur psychology is no doubt fucking it up for everyone who genuinely struggles with control issues or anxiety, but I believe this is the root of a lot of this need to control - we don't like it when we aren't liked. I am 31 years old and if I think I may have remotely offended a peer by not sharing their opinion, I will still insist on sending a follow up text message after our meeting to ensure it's all been smoothed over. I mean, it's pathetic. But still, here I am, still on the look out for side-way glances signally someone's disgust or double reading emails to see if there was actually an angry tone from a colleague. When in the end, all I really need to know and act upon is this - some people in this world do not like me. There is nothing I can do about this. So when I sense that someone feels this way about me, and I've done nothing but be myself, I must just shrug my shoulders and move right along.
In the spirit of not being perfect, I'm not going to proof read this blog but I am going to add a meme. I'm not even going to reread it to see if it makes any kind of logical sense but I am going to add a meme. Yay! Breakthrough! However, I will say, that life is a work in progress. We are all coming at it from different angles and no matter where you're from or what you're story is, we all have our issues and (inner) demons to keep at bay. You're not perfect and neither am I. In fact, nobody is.