Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cease Striving

I recently realized that I am okay being {imperfect}. 

You may be thinking, "Big deal." or "Good thing!", but for me this was - and is - a truly revolutionary realization. 

You see, I've lived with labels like "over-achiever", "teacher's pet" and "go-getter" all my life.  In personality tests, I always found myself in the "natural leader" category. I was the one chosen to represent the school or the team at a conference and was always the one to take the lead on a group assignment, volunteer for the biggest job that needed done and make sure everything came together in the end. I said "no" to almost nothing and have always felt an immense pressure to live up to all those labels and self-inflicted responsibilities. 

To put it simply, I have always been a perfectionist. 

The drive to {be more} has been a deeply ingrained, immensely motivating force in my life. It pushed me to try diet after diet after diet starting around the fifth grade, to maintain strenuous exercise plans into my twenties, to invest in diet pills and other concoctions, to go for days not eating at all.  It pushed me to maintain a 4.0 throughout high school and earn the title of Valedictorian, then to go on to be the first in my family to earn a Bachelor's degree paid for in full by myself without loans. It's pushed me to carry the weight of decisions that weren't my own, to fight against injustice with complete abandon, to look, to compare, to strive for more. Sometimes the striving has led to great achievements, sometimes to disastrous ends. Perfectionism is a double-edged sword in that way. 

This mantra in my head has been constant: "More, more, more, more". Regardless of the area of life - mental, physical, relational, spiritual - for as long as I have memory, there has been this nagging feeling that it's just not enough. Or rather, that {I'm just not enough}.

Part of my recent realization has been the discovery that perfectionism has been one of the key ingredients in my Christianity. In being completely honest with myself, I've realized that my need to be more and do more is what pushed me into faith in the first place. Well, perhaps that's too simplistic. But perfectionism was at least one of the biggest reasons why I felt a need for a Savior or a faith at all. At twelve I was already on a quest to "greatness" - aka perfection - which would require all the help I could get. God sounded like a pretty good route to my end goal and the thought of someone perfect seeing me and loving me despite my imperfection was astounding. 

My faith is very much in process these days, so I am still sorting out what bearing this discovery actually has on it. Perhaps it is just new understanding. I tend to think it is an awakening to a richer, truer way of doing life and faith. 

But back to being perfect. Well, I'm not. And if there's one thing that I have learned loud and clear in the past few years, it's that this world is not perfect, people are far from perfect, systems and governments are apallingly imperfect and no matter how much time passes or how much effort I put forth, "perfect" still stands in the distance, miles and miles from my reach. The "more" mantra doesn't cease. It's an endless cycle of striving and achieving and striving and failing and striving and striving and striving....

I'm passionate about being and becoming a truly authentic, real person. And the reality is, {perfection isn't real}. At least, not in this world, not anytime soon. AND THAT'S OKAY! This truth has become like a ferocious lion inside of me roaring with certainty, "It's okay. You're okay. Imperfect is OKAY!!". It's normal; it's real; it's relatable; it's just fine. 

Me on a morning walk recently
I wouldn't have been able to put all of this into words a year ago or even a month ago, but the certainty of this revelation has been taking root in my soul for a few years and is now shaping the way I view life and others and yes, even myself. I find myself totally comfortable with the thought of being and remaining imperfect throughout this life. I'm at peace, even happy, with the state of my post-baby body (yes, saggy boobs and all; they were bound to start sagging some day!). I'm calm about the messiness of the spiritual journey I've been on. I feel more aware, more thankful, as far from perfect as ever and as close to loving myself as ever. 

I should add that my quest toward perfectionism has not meant a sudden shift to laziness or apathy or boring contentedness. On the contrary, coming to terms with my own imperfections has birthed a swelling, freeing self-confidence within me that has resulted in trying things I would have never tried before, working late into the night and rising early in the morning, and hoping for depths of friendship and richness of life greater than all my striving dreamt up before. I work hard, I hope a lot, I expect a lot. I'm messy and in process and loving this {imperfect} journey of life.

Pin It Now!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved