It’s been awhile since I devoted time to my blog. Because life. Because kids. Because it’s always easier to not do than it is to do.
But on this rainy morning, I found myself missing it. Missing the connection it provides me with when I do invest the time and energy to put myself and my words out into the world. And missing the resulting comfort of knowing I am not alone in my messiness. My ‘spinny-ness’ (new word, y’all).
When I wrote about turning 40, I confessed to you that I am a perfectionist. Those who know me are dumbfounded that it took me so long to see this in myself, when they had known it in their bones since the day they met me.
They knew it, and they still became my friend. They still accepted and loved me despite the fact that I have an almost palpable need to have things just so. (I twitch when the books on a shelf aren’t lined up neatly.)
So why is it so hard for me to love and accept myself?
Why is it so hard for any of us to love and accept ourselves? Because I know with gut-level certainty that I am not alone in feeling this way.
We are all awesome in so many ways. It’s not about how many places we’ve traveled to or how many degrees we’ve earned or any of the stuff we own. If we are kind, if we seek to make the world better in some way – like by raising good kids, or practicing random acts of kindness – if we love our people hard…then we are awesome. Full stop.
And yet so often we feel a sense of inadequacy. ‘Not enough-ness’.
At least I do.
And it circles back to perfectionism. Surely if things are perfect, I will feel a sense of peace and calm and be able to relax into my life with the certainty that what I have to offer is enough.
How can it not be when it’s perfect?
Except ‘perfect’ is a unicorn. Nice in stories, but completely fictitious.
Now that I have self-diagnosed my perfectionism (hmm…that makes it sound like some kind of disease or disorder…), my every thought and action has been under my microscope for analysis. Is that perfectionism at work? Do I need to work on doing that or not doing that, whatever ‘that’ is in the moment? Whose approval am I seeking: my own or that of other people?
Before I go to bed at night, I make sure all the laundry is put away, the kitchen counters are cleared off, and the kitchen sink is clean. No matter how tired I am. And I’m always tired these days, my friends.
Why does this matter to me?
Is it still perfectionism when no one but myself really notices or cares?
Or is it just a mama’s way of having a little bit of control over her spinny world? A little peace of mind knowing that certain tasks aren’t waiting for her when she wakes up. A little experiment to see if a calm space contributes to a calm(er) mind.
I have always been a reader. I love fiction, but I also love to learn. This motherhood/perfectionist journey of mine has put my reading-for-learning into overdrive and I find myself hungry to absorb the words of women (and some men) who have been in my shoes, any maybe still are. There have been many books and blogs that have helped me gain a better sense of this stage of my life, and three in particular whose words really reached me and enabled me to exhale.
Brene Brown. If you follow my blog you know I am a huge Brene fan. That woman. <sigh> We need more of her in the world. Anyway, Brene’s most recent book – Braving the Wilderness – focuses on true belonging. I had many ‘a ha!’ moments while reading it, but my biggest takeaway was that true belonging only comes from believing in and belonging to ourselves. Ourselves, y’all. Fitting in with the other moms or the people at the gym or our colleagues has nothing to do with true belonging. It has nothing to do with other people, period. True belonging comes from within.
Then there’s Kendra over at The Lazy Genius Collective. Her motto is ‘Be a genius about the things that matter, and lazy about the things that don’t’. The calm this woman brings to my frazzled self…I can’t even. And the fact that her blog and podcasts are such a success just reaffirms something I already know in my heart but seem to need constant reminding of: I am not alone in my spinny-ness. So. Not. Alone.
Finally, there’s Krista at A Life in Progress. I came across Krista’s blog one day when I was
Instagram creeping doing research online. Everything about Krista – her raw honesty, her willingness to be open and vulnerable with the world, her kindness – makes me want to curl up on her couch with a cup of tea and just listen as she speaks. Just absorb the wisdom she has come to possess throughout her own messy journey. Of the many soul-soothing, life-coaching things she writes, one of my favourites is ‘Life is messy; show up anyway’. I might have those words tattooed on my forearm. Oh how messy my new life feels. But when I show up – when I am truly present and curious and open – the mess is really, really lovely.
So back to my question: Why does it matter that I get all those mundane tasks done before I go to bed?
It just does.
And it has nothing to do with perfectionism.
I don’t do it for other people; I do it for me. Not all of my quirks point to perfectionism. (A lot of them do, but not all.) Some of my quirks are just me. They might look like perfectionism at work from the outside, but they’re not. Not all of them. So rather than try to fix those quirks, I’m going to let them be. It’s exhausting – so exhausting – to live life under a microscope, especially when it’s your own microscope. Scrutiny and judgement can come from others and is bound to happen from time to time. But when it comes from within…from yourself… where is the room for love and acceptance?
So. It’s decided. I’m going to belong to myself. I’m going to work at being lazier about the things that don’t matter. I’m going to try to show up to my own life every single day, no matter how spinny my mind is. I’m going to work on loving – or at least accepting – my quirks, instead of labelling them all as a subset of perfectionism and then trying to ‘fix’ them.
This blog post is like my life these days – messy and a bit all over the place. But good enough.
(Hey, I can’t always be adorable and charming.)
Thanks for reading.