Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley; reverb10.com)
In the early days of the new year, I had something akin to a panic attack — my anxiety spiked to near epic levels, and I was filled with dread and indecision for the new year. I hadn’t reflected and planned as #reverb10 seems to be allowing me to do, and so I was driving myself crazy trying to do everything, be everything, be independent and part of a community, to figure out how everything goes together.
I filled up the white board in our office with everything that was on my mind:
The pressure I was putting myself under ended up with me in counseling, talking to a woman I didn’t quite like, but was good enough. At one of the first meetings with her, she said to me, “It seems like you’re a perfectionist.”
You see, I had spent some time fighting perfectionism already — one of my personal philosophies was that perfect is the enemy of good, perfect is the enemy of done, and perfect was not something to be striving for. I didn’t want to perfect my writing in this sense, and I had given up being a perfect housekeeper, and forcing Tim to make it so that together we would be perfect housekeepers.
But still, as Laurie the not-so-great therapist pointed out to me, I was expecting a lot out of myself. I was expecting to get up the same time every day, despite being depressed. I was expecting myself to be perfectly efficient at work, despite the fact that I was getting good reviews and everyone goofs off a little, I was expecting myself to regiment my free time and never relax and always be achieving…
So, one thing that I have let go of is perfectionism in 2010. It isn’t a perfect process, but it is a process of doing exactly what I don’t want to do (overloading my schedule, thinking I have to do it all) and then slowly backing down from it (Promised to do a book drive, but don’t stress about writing a novel.) and providing self care (Buy yourself the clothes you want. Relax in the evening).
I don’t want to do it all, anymore, despite the fact that there is a lot that still is worth doing. I want to do what I can. One of my resolutions for 2010 was to declutter our home. Rather than do a half hour each day, I try to do one project in about a 4 hour block, from identifying the clutter to buying the containers to organize, to putting everything back together. It’s certainly not finished, but making it a goal, and continually persuing it — Tim and I have accomplished a lot this year. Perfectionism would demand I be angry or sad that I didn’t do it in the first three months of the year that I wanted, or that I haven’t finished by the end of the year, but when it comes down to it? I have done a lot.
I’ve tried, slowly, to get rid of perfectionism. It isn’t perfect — and if it were, it would defeat the point.