Tuesday, May 31, 2016

     The pressure is on. On this day, as I sit down to compose my 800th blog, I ask myself, “What can I write that will inspire, motivate, challenge, humor my readers?” Hmm. I ask myself,” What do my readers need or want? What are they struggling with or celebrating this day after we honor so many who have given all?” I am humbled by this challenge, so I will go with the message my daughter sent me from California yesterday from her seminar starring Elizabeth Gilbert,  “Perfectionism is FEAR in high heels.” Whoa. Now that set Fifi back a strut or two. wtf.

     Are you a Perfectionist? Are you afraid? Years ago, I would have been afraid to look down at my 4” puppies and try to make sense of such a statement. Today, I am not afraid, for my sticks have carried me through thick and thin over the past almost 73 years. I am no longer a Perfectionist; I am a recovering Perfectionist. If you are one or know one, you know this is huge.

     Here’s what I’ve learned about Perfectionism: Perfectionism is a recipe for self-destruction and serious unhappiness. It is a curse not to be taken lightly. It is both arrogant and pathetic, but many of us have suffered from it for years. Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.” Ah, so true. One of the side effects of Perfectionism is comparison. For those perfectionists who are dumb enough to compare themselves to others (usually those smarter, prettier, richer, more successful), you are setting yourselves up for disaster. So what do high heels have to do with it? Does this mean Perfectionism is found only in women? No, I interpret this to mean that the person who struts around looking confident is really a scared little human like everyone else. Maybe.

     If you were brought up by two, count’em two perfectionistic parents, you really don’t have much of a chance to be anything else—at least for the first several years of your life. By the time you figure out what’s causing your lack of inner peace, you’re a full-grown adult with your head in self-help tomes scrambling for an answer. So is it your parents’ fault? Maybe. Doesn’t matter.

     Once we are “mature” adults, it is our responsibility to examine our beliefs and figure out what doesn’t feel right. Once we figure out that maybe it’s the curse of Perfectionism, then what the hell do we do about changing all those self-defeating thoughts in our brain that minimize every accomplishment and shame everything short of perfect? I have struggled with this most of my life, and I can tell you that stilettos help. They put me up a few inches and make me stand tall. They force me to be feminine and carry myself with an air of confidence even when I’m scared shitless. As time goes on, the “pretend” turns into real, and I have learned to grow into my confidence one tiny strut at a time. It took years (and I still regress) to stop comparing myself to every beauty and scholar I saw. It took years to accept an occasional mediocre performance. It took years to accept myself unconditionally and know that I was ok when I wasn’t putting my whole self out there to be judged. The most crucial thing I did was to bring up my daughters with unconditional love. They have, to my knowledge, never struggled with the demons I have. They wear high heels occasionally, not every day, like their mother. They work hard, accept themselves and know they are loved no matter what they do. Even though I am still recovering, they are thriving, and of that, I am so proud.

     Where am I going with this? Not sure. Maybe I’m just giving you Perfectionists out there food for thought. Maybe I’m just venting or philosophizing. N’importe. It’s my 800th blog, so please indulge me. 

     Are you a Perfectionist? Do you live with one? Are you creating one? If so, take a strut back and ask yourself, “What is this doing for me?”