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The Game of Perfection

Did you ever play the game called "perfection"? It is the one with the little yellow shapes you have to put in their correct place before the timer runs out and the board shakes, scaring the life out of you. I HATED that game as a kid. When I would hear the timer ticking away my heart would start to race and I would feel so nervous. Looking back, that could be my first memories of anxiety. I didn't like the game because I was never fast enough to beat the timer and it always made me feel unsuccessful. This stupid game was only a foreshadow of future tendencies.

I am a perfectionist. I want to be the best at whatever I do. In school I wanted to get the best grades. In my career I strive to know as much about my profession as possible and to never make mistakes. Any mistakes or failure at being perfect is taken personally. Most people would see such things as learning opportunities, but my ED sees it as a personal flaw. A blemish on my worth as a human. I dwell on it for hours, replaying the shortcoming n my mind. Asking myself how I could have been so careless, thoughtless, and dumb to make the mistake I made. It isn't fair and I know it isn't realistic. I don't have the same expectations for others. I use to, but over the years I have learned that I can't put the expectations I place on myself on to other people. People aren't perfect, and I can accept that-- for other people.

This morning I went on a run. It has been oppressively hot here lately and I haven't been running in over a week. This morning it was cool enough to go out. I set my goal for 2 miles (I am terrible at distance, remember). I stretched, walked for about 3 minutes before really starting to run. I ran to my mom's street knowing it is about a mile. I got to her street and stopped to change the song on my phone. I looked at the running app and I had only gone .72 miles. My body hurt, my face was blood shot red, and my lungs felt like they were working over time. I walked for about a minute and then tried again. I made it to 1.4 miles before turning the app off. I walked the rest of the way home arguing with the thoughts in my head. "You're fat because you can't even go 1.5 miles." "You'll feel better if you just push yourself." "You failed at your goal. You didn't succeed." All easy thoughts to believe, but after 11 years you learn ED's games and perfection is one of his favorites. I knew that I wasn't fat because of this run. Running takes practice and consistency and I hadn't been dedicated to either lately and that was OKAY! I don't HAVE to be. Yes, I know how great it feels to hear the app congratulate you on meeting your running goal, but today I had set my goal too high. It was hot out, I hadn't been out in a week, and my body was telling me that it had met it's limit for the day. I am clearly due for a chiropractor visit as my neck and back were already beginning to throb and my hip were not far behind. By the time I made it home I was at peace with my decision to stop running. I was trusting my body and listening to it's needs. Continuing to run would have not been honoring my body, respecting its limits and needs, and it would be letting ED win this round.

Last night, I had class. Five minutes before class started I realized I had read the wrong chapters for class. I didn't realize the professor has rearranged the chapter order. I read chapters 5 and 6 because those were the next in the book, but the class was covering chapters 7 and 8. I started to panic. I was able to talk myself though it. It is okay, I will learn the material though the lectures and I participate in discussion every other class, if I am quiet this one night it won't kill my grade. Luckily, I learned enough in the lecture to be able to participate in the conversations, but ED kept creeping in. "Everyone else seemed to manage to read the right chapter, you're just getting lazy." Luckily, I have messaged one of my classmates at the beginning of class and she had made the same mistake I did, so I was quickly able to shut ED up with that one. But as I was listening to my classmates express their perspective on the chapters and make these deep connections and realizations from the material I started to feel completely out of my league. These people are incredibly smart and think about things on such a deep level that it makes me feel SO stupid. Most of the time I am just trying to understand the material, let alone get philosophical about it! Last night wasn't the first night I have felt this insecurity arise. Feeling like I need to compete and be the best in the class is a lot of pressure to put on yourself. This is something I really need to learn to deal with. I appreciate the thinking that is done by my classmates because I learn from hearing their perspectives, just as I am sure they can learn from mine. We are in this program together and are there for support, not to compete. It doesn't change the fact that it sure feels good to get an A :)

Perfectionism is something a lot of people struggle with. Our education, our careers, hobbies, appearance. We just want to be the best. But would being the best at any of those things actually add value to our lives? Just something to think about!

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<3 Stay Strong and Beautiful

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