Trying To Be Perfect
When I was in kindergarten I was playing tag with my next door neighbor. Running fast because I did not want to be ďitĒ I zipped through her garage to short cut to their back yard. As my hand extended to push the door knob I missed and busted through the glass storm door with my arm. Turns out I would end up with 36 stitches but hereís the odd thing. I went into the back yard and climbed the fence to go home because I did not want people to see me. I really donít know why but I didnít want anyone to see the blood running down my arm and face.
Frankly I still have trouble with this. I want to be perfect and I sure donít want anyone to see my flaws and weaknesses. Here is what I have learned: it is impossible to be perfect. I waste a lot of energy trying to be perfect. If I compared total energy expenditure to the return on investment the answer is obvious, why spend a lot of effort on something that makes very little difference? There is a saying among veteran trail runners that ďIf you canít see over it, donít run it.Ē Mature trail runners will advise that you walk up the big steep climbs and when I compared the small speed increase running up a hill vs. the large amount of energy it takes to do it I realized that they were correct.
Trying to be perfect is like sprinting up a hill, a whole lot of wasted effort for small return. Besides the sheer amount of work that being perfect takes there is the whole relationship cost. When I am myself defects and all, I receive the gift of genuine friendships. In fact when I am genuine other people feel safe to be themselves with me and what a gift that is. But the hard part of this is that being yourself makes you vulnerable. When you hide behind the perfection mask you have a tidy little wall to keep you from being hurt. Unfortunately most people are not going to breech that wall and you end up lonely. So itís really a choice, work to be perfect and protected or open up be you and experience relationships.
ďThe thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.Ē Anna Quindlen