Maybe if you like to write, like I do, you will understand this.
I haven’t written anything for this space in a week or two, because I don’t have the perfect thing to say. I have lots of ideas, but they’re sort of nebulous in my head and I don’t have the perfect words to express them yet. Also, writing can be stressful because it requires lots of mental energy and endless editing, reworking, typing and erasing and typing and erasing and typing some more. It means pushing the “publish” button on something that feels incomplete – always – something that isn’t my best yet and doesn’t fully represent me the way I’d like it to. So … who needs that extra stress? It’s easier not to write. Nothing to write means nothing to edit, which means nothing to publish and nothing to regret.
I think about this a lot lately, and how I put all kinds of ridiculous pressure on myself to always exist at and to perform to my peak potential. Oddly enough, I was thinking about it this morning on the way to my dermatologist. When I go to these appointments, I don’t wear any makeup because it seems sort of … counterintuitive, right? Like, hi, I’d like a professional assessment of the condition of my skin, and to prepare for this, I will layer it with cosmetics to artificially enhance the condition of my skin. So, no makeup – and sadly, this always has a pretty big impact on my self-confidence, even though I wish it didn’t. Leaving the house today, I felt a familiar sense of “less-than,” or of “not ready yet.” I’m not the best I can be, yet. I’m not finished. I can do better than this. I’m not at my peak yet, and therefore, I’m not ready to go out into the world yet.
Sometimes I get into the same pattern when it comes to fitness. As I’ve written about before, I’m going to Atlanta in a month (literally a month from today) to complete a two-week personal training certification course with a bunch of other folks who are super-passionate about this field, and who are also super-fit. As the date approaches, I’m becoming excited for what I know will be a life-changing experience … but I’m also feeling a lot of pressure to try to keep up with these uber-fit people (who are, admittedly, all just in my head at this point). I keep thinking that when I go to Atlanta, I need to be at my peak. I need to be in the best shape possible. I even told myself that one month out, I’d tighten up my diet a little more (and cut out alcohol … right before the holidays, seriously, could the timing be worse?) Shit, that’s today.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, or to be your best, or wanting to perform to your highest potential. In many ways, I’m grateful for this character trait because it’s pushed me to do some really amazing things. At the same time, I am working to be more mindful of this trait, and to keep it in check when it starts to do more harm than good.
When I stop writing because the pressure of perfection is too much to bear.
When I start isolating or avoiding people when I’m not wearing makeup, or when I’m not looking my best.
When I diminish once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and life experiences by comparing myself to others, by putting myself down for not reaching some unattainable standard, and by doubting my ability to be imperfect and still do good for others.
When I “can’t” have a glass of wine with my friends to celebrate the holidays. Seriously?
I’m not a freaking best-selling author or supermodel or fitness competitor, and my experience here on Earth isn’t some sort of life-long, high-stakes competition. These things that I pressure myself with sometimes? No one else cares. And just because I won’t (and can’t, and shouldn’t pressure myself to) be at my peak every day doesn’t mean that I can’t show up to play – imperfectly – every day.
P.S. I put makeup on in the car after my appointment. 🙂 #realtalk #nofilter