Monday, February 20, 2012

The Outward Appearance

My other main issue with perfectionism is that my outward appearance has to be perfect. If it’s not, I don’t want to be seen in public. I wish I could be invisible.

When I was a kid there was no way on earth that I would go anywhere wearing sweatpants, let alone pajama pants and slippers (stay tuned for rant on THAT another day), or not wearing at least mascara and lip gloss. My mum has very light eyelashes and when she wasn’t wearing mascara I would inform her that her eyes were ‘bald’. Daughter-of-the-year award.

I could never show anything negative in public. No crying. No yelling. No losing it. No smudged make-up. No chipped nail polish. No rips. No tears. No bad hair. That’s why I would hold everything in until an appropriate time.

Most of this was ingrained into my brain by my Nana. I love and admire and miss my Nana. I don’t blame her. She was teaching me how to be a respectable lady. I am such a perfectionist, that I took that training and RAN with it. My Nana is an extreme perfectionist. I love her so much because we speak the same language. I know what I’m going to be like as a grown-up because I’m going to be just like her. My Nana is my father’s mother mentioned in my last post.

Towards the end of high school, I figured out that the way I saw myself and the way that others see me is something COMPLETELY different. The flaws that I see, like the loose thread or the hair on my shoulder, are barely visible to others and not worth beating myself up over.

I have relaxed a lot over the years to where I have gone out in public not only in sweats, but also in pajamas, and there are more days than not that I don’t wear make-up.

Being a mother will do that to you. My mum told me once that once you have a baby, you’ll drop your pants for anyone. She was referring to the numerous people that take a look at you while you are attending your several doctor’s appointments and while giving birth, but it applies to the rest of your life too. Having a baby proves to you that you are not the centre of the universe. That child becomes the centre of the universe. That child needs to be provided for and that takes precedence over a shower sometimes. If that child needs milk or cereal or medicine, you go out in your jammies and you get it. Because it’s for your child and who cares what you look like, you’re on a mission. If that child spits up all over you right before you leave for work, you wipe it off and in your sleep-deprived haze, show up for work with some of it still in your hair. Or on your face. Or on your crotch (true story). Sometimes you only manage to line one eye. That’s life and you won’t die if your neighbours see you in your sweats without your teeth brushed with last night’s make-up still on picking up cough medicine at four o’clock in the morning. Or four o’clock in the afternoon. It happens to all of us.

When he was two, Huey had the croup but we didn’t know it. He had this awful horrible cough and we had been up with him all night. We had run out of the cough medicine that the doctor had suggested we get, so I had to run to the 24-hour grocery store to get some more. I had not had much sleep. I was worried about my baby boy. I was in my jammies. My teeth were most certainly not brushed. It was 4 a.m. My shoes were not tied. I was not wearing a bra. My hair was a mess. I had not thought to put on a hat. When I took the medicine to the register, the cashier cheerily asked, “How are you today?” It took all I had to not say “it’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m buying children’s cough medicine in my jammies. How do you THINK I am?”

So what I was trying to get at is that I’m trying to embrace my perfect imperfection. I’m trying to be who I am and be okay with that. I’m not a rapist or a psychopath or a murderer or extortionist. I have room for improvement, but so do you. I am trying so hard to be okay with myself. I have spent my entire life being not okay with myself because I’m not perfect. Not one part of me is perfect. It’s so agonizing to me that I can’t look at myself and say, “Well, THAT part of me is perfect”. It’s agonizing to me because I’m a perfectionist.

It’s okay that I’m a perfectionist. I own it. It makes me strive to be better. It helps me to appreciate beauty because I see all of it. I have a nit-picky eye for detail so I really really notice the little things. I love that I can see the little things.

It’s also okay that I’m not perfect. That not one aspect of me is perfect other than I am perfectly flawed.

I own my flaws. They make me interesting. Perfection is actually quite boring when it’s achieved. It’s the mistakes that make things interesting, unpredictable, exciting, and more valuable.

I’m embracing my darkness. I’m letting it out for others to see. I feel naked and exposed and terrified. I’m hoping that no one notices. I’m hoping I’m right about the loose thread.

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