I saw this bumper sticker the other day and it conjured up many bad memories. I used to live my life by this mantra. No, I mean LIVE MY LIFE. If it wasn't going to be done 150,000,000 percent, then don't do it at all. Isn't that what it means to “Go Big or Go Home”? If you read my blog you know I sometimes write about a nasty thing called Perfectionism. I've struggled with this for years. It's ugly, I hate it, but I've actually come a long way. Perfectionism is black and white. In someone's life who deals with this, everything is or isn't. There's no “in-between”. No gray area.
I started playing tennis when I was 3 years old. I practically grew up on the tennis courts. My parents were avid players. I took lessons for years and years and if my parents weren't paying for lessons, my dad was my coach. My freshman year in high school I got up enough courage to try out for the tennis team. The first day of try-outs I sized up the other girls there. Some of them were better than me, but not all. It didn't even occur to me that these girls would be my teammates, not my competition. The anxiety that overtook me was much too overwhelming. I felt sick thinking that I might lose. In front of others. In front of my parents. So, guess what I did? I went home. The following year I tried out for something much less stressful in my book: Cheerleading. I don't regret being on the cheerleading team, however, I very much regret letting my own perfectionism, my own fear of failure limit me in something that was so important to me. I loved tennis. I was a really good player. But, if I couldn't be the absolute best, if I couldn't “go big”, (and in my mind that meant never losing) I would rather go home.
This thought process continued and bled over into other parts of my life. I compared myself constantly to everyone else. I wasn't as thin as this person, my boobs weren't as big as that persons, my grades weren't as good as hers. Compliments fell on deaf ears.
When someone concentrates so hard on looking good, at being the absolute best at any cost, are they really living their life authentically? Are they even living their own life? I didn't even know what “living authentically” meant until I became somewhat comfortable living in the grey. Years of “go big or go home” had worn on me, and I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, and who I wanted to become. Was it easy to let it all go? Shit, NO! It's still not sometimes. I still have moments of “Oh no, I'm going to look like a complete asshole if I do this or say that”. It's slowly becoming easier to be okay with the fact that some people might think I'm an asshole. And on a good day I might even take that as a compliment.
After reading Courtney Martin's “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters”, it was reiterated to me that so many women, especially in my generation suffer from perfectionistic behaviors. The line gets blurry from the ambitious, go-getter, fierce female, to the woman practically killing herself to be perfect in every way. For me, I let my mean and vicious saboteur voice run my life for a lot of years. And she's a real bitch to me, let me tell ya! But, I truly believe that living a life this way, can be crippling.
So, think about times when you might have had this type of thinking. Perhaps you made assumptions ahead of time about something or someone. Or maybe you avoided something because in your mind if you couldn't do it perfectly, it wasn't worth doing. Just notice it.