One Christmas, my mom gave a book, Anna Quindlen's Being Perfect. At the time I didn't really get why she gave it to me. I remember trying to figure out what subliminal message she was sending me. When I read it though, it made complete sense. It's all about the idea of how we fall into this "perfection trap," and as a result of chasing inauthentic success, we lose sight of who we really are. Ah, mother. So wise...
At school, I am the costume manager for our upcoming musical, "Anything Goes." No idea what I'm doing. I have my creative and organizational moments, but this job has pushed them to the brink. We had our first night rehearsal (opening night is a mere week away) last night and numerous wardrobe malfunctions left me thinking, "what did I get myself into?" Just today, I had to pick up our rental costumes. I got ride from a coworker with a truck because apparently the boxes would not fit in little Erv the Yaris. Of course I went to the wrong location. My colleague couldn't bring me, so I returned to school empty handed and completed embarrassed. The rest of rehearsal was a complete wash because I was I seized with embarrassment and frustration. I was headed for a complete breakdown.
In my car, as I was sobbing, I came to an "Aha moment." I do this all the time. I expect to be able to do everything and to know everything. To be perfect. Inevitably that leads to disappointment and feelings of inadequacy. This happens in all aspects of my life. When I can't live up to these unreachable standards I have set, I beat myself up and make myself feel worthless. It's a ruthless cycle, but not totally surprising.
I have a perfect child complex. I am not entirely sure why, but I have always tried to do and say the right thing. Get good grades. Go to college. Get a job. Stay out of trouble. I don't know if it's because I have siblings who have not "stayed on the path" and I feel like I have to make up for them. Or because if I was perfect I would be liked. In any event, this complex has spilled over childhood and has invaded adulthood.I don't want the people I work with and the people I meet to know I'm not perfect. That I don't know everything and usually don't know what to say. But then again, is anyone like that?
Maybe I should give myself a break and accept my awkward, imperfect nature. Maybe life would be easier that way.