I Am Perfect, Just Like Everyone Else

A New Year, a Fresh Start, the beginnings of I Will Always and some I Will Nevers, None of This and More of That, less snacking, more flossing, blah, blah, blah.

The Baroness Von Bloggenschtern, a thoughtful, dynamic and witty friend, recently posted on the vein of being kinder to ourselves, lowering our expectations a bit. She was moved by a mantra she encountered at a yoga retreat, the very simply stated:

"All I have to do is be,
and all I have to be is who I am"

It was also well said by these guys. They look a bit goofy but I think they were on to something:

There's nothing you can know that isn't known. 
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.

Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.

It's easy.

Years ago I was spending some time with a favorite Aunt who happens to be a Buddhist and herself, very wise. We were talking about achievement and working as hard as you can to get to the "top". I was a rising executive at a media company and very determined to get "ahead". My family(the other side) was a driven bunch and it was so ingrained I thought it was my own ambition, something I had come up with on my own, not just mimicry or trying to meet their standards and earn their approval. Well, I told my aunt all of the things I wanted and my timetable for getting where I wanted to be et. al., and she asked me one thing, why? Well, to achieve, I told her, to make "it". Again she asked, why? Well, because people should work as hard as they can and achieve as much as possible I tried to explain.


I had never before questioned the value of these things(like the value of perfection, achievement, all of it). I couldn't come up with a reasonable answer. Most of those ambitions were tied to showing people I could do it, proving to people I was smart, capable, fierce. Yes, some elements of my drive were more mellow, like the good feeling one gets from doing something well, from setting a goal and meeting it, from achieving something you weren't sure you could. But a great deal of it was tied to less than healthy motives.

I thought about why I was doing what I was doing. Why was I travelling 32 weeks out of the year rather than putting time into a personal life. Why was I staying at a job I didn't like just because I made good money but then turned around and spent it on things I didn't need to feel better about the fact that I was in a job I didn't like?

My aunt wasn't trying to be antagonistic, just to get me to think. And think I did. After a while, I couldn't stop thinking. The why I was doing what I was doing wedged itself so far in my brain I finally went to see a therapist. I won't go into detail because personal therapy is generally only interesting to one's self but over the course of a year I worked on casting off some of my families' influence so that I could figure out who I really was. It was spent working on being kinder and more forgiving toward myself. I spent time discovering what I really wanted and what was important to me.

A year later, I was no longer at my media job, rather, I had just got my esthetician's license and was on my way to opening my itty bitty little spa. And just another year later, having made room in my life for, well, a life, I met my husband. It took a 2000 mile move from home, a year of therapy and the love of a very good man, but somewhere along the way, I really did begin to believe that all I have to be is who I am and there is nowhere I can be that isn't where I am meant to be. Yes, there are days when I get stuck in my old fear, or loathing or expectations but I am getting better at getting back to the place where I am reminded of my own imperfect perfection.

Here's wishing you the same for 2010.

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puncturedbicycle said... January 7, 2010 at 3:03 PM  

Wow. What a beautiful and powerful post. I suspect I'll be back to reread it.

hastama├▒anabanana said... January 7, 2010 at 3:10 PM  

Good post! Some great inspiring thoughts to start 2010 with.


gloss_e said... January 7, 2010 at 4:33 PM  

you are one eloquent lady :) this post articulates the EXACT tone I'd like to set for 2010.

Arizaphale said... January 8, 2010 at 2:45 AM  

Well said FF! I have found that once you have come to that realisation, it is hard to remember why you felt so 'driven ' in the first place.
Here's to being the best 'us' we can be in 2010.

Sandi said... January 8, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

I did the same thing. I was a rising executive in an advertising firm and one day I just "called in well" and became a teacher. I've never looked back.

Rassles said... January 11, 2010 at 10:48 AM  

I don't know what my comment means. It was just the reaction I had.

Blues said... January 14, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

I love this post because I identify with it so much. So much of my life has been trying to show 'em who I could be and when I got to the top (my mini top, that is), I hated life and was miserable. So I quit my ever-so-important job to become a cog of sorts with zero glorification. I'm a cog that can sleep at night and not wake up in a panic over all the calls I have to make that day, or people to fire or clients asses to kiss. I'm a cog with emotional energy for my husband again and a desire to finally have a family.

I only need to please myself and my husband and I'm so happy I've stopped pressuring myself to be something I don't really enjoy.

Great post.

Shelley said... January 28, 2010 at 10:43 AM  

Beautifully written, resonant, evocative. Thank you. You are magnificent.

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