Monday, December 14, 2009

Trouble! That starts with "T" and that rhymes with "P"

and that stands for.... Perfection.

So I know my proverbial Shelves are quite dusty. I've been gone for a month bring busybusybusy and always thinking. I've had a number of things I've felt were writing worthy (read: "blog-worthy" but I hate that phrase) and a few things that were just fun.

I have had a few profound thoughts about Muppets and traffic patterns and I have a new fashion crush that I'll get to. I'm instituting a new weekly staple: Fashion Friday! Many frivolous and totally uneducated but enthusiastic opinions to come. You've been warned.

My time going from funny thing to funny thing on the webbernet has been cut down drastically by this new concept called a "job" so I've been running thin on material but I'll do my best to keep Wednesday Giggles going as well. Have no fear.

However for today - there is something that I feel the need to be bloggy about. Its something I've felt a serious contempt for lately. More than I usually do too and it is the irrational Culture of Perfectionism I've been a personal witness to (read: victim of) as an American, as a woman, as a member of my family, and as a member of the LDS faith. I truly eschew it. I find it to be more debilitating than any behavior modifying medication, illegal, or abusive substances. Its horrible and its a mental game that we've all bought into.

Preemptive disclaimer: LDS-wise, Christian-wise, I am actively choosing to be a follower of Christ. He was perfect, is perfect. In every sense of the word. He invited me to be like Him, or in otherwise perfect. However - what I seriously overlook sometimes is that, for ME, its a process. Its a day to day effort of trying to be better, of practicing excellence. I whole heartily embrace that concept and hold it VERY close so please don't mistake my rants on here as me defending lethargy, laziness, thoughtlessness or selfishness. Quite the opposite. I've found the more I've prayed to see, work, and react to my world in love, in Godly love, that the stronger these ideas grow in my mind.

The gist of it is - we totally don't get it. We don't understand Perfection. We think we do but we have no clue. ESPECIALLY how to get there.

I think that our concept of perfection is cantankerous. It is something that eats at us, breaks us down, discourages us and defeats us before we ever start anything. It is an arresting concept to us.

A bit of background;

I'm a dyslexic kid. I always have been. I had to learn a lot differently than the rest of the world and I did so by learning to listen very close to what people said to me and to recognize patterns. In turn these default mental settings have helped me to become a fairly perceptive (and introspective) adult. As much I've come to realize that I was also surrounded by a lot of excellence as a kid.

Let me clarify terms here too.
Perfection is basically a 4 letter word to me. Its alienating and just conjures up frustration. It instantly inspires disappointment and inaction. I'm not an inaction kind of girl.

Excellence (to me) is a quality that chases a moment or is made of a bunch of little moments that string a beautiful something together. Its a much more obtainable thing, for me at least. Its a concept thats possible to made into a habit, to be learned, that incorporates a process of thinking, action, reaction, assessment, modification and reapplication. I love it and find it a much more healthier governing value.

I will be using those terms to explain myself from here on.

This all may be disjointed and far too long of a post but bear with me.

I'm surrounded by a lot of perfectionists, family, friends and what not. I don't like what it does to them. I don't like who it makes them become. They become ridged, severe, censuring people. This isn't necessarily expressed and lashed outwards. Its worse. These people ruthlessly beat themselves up because they're not perfect despite their best efforts. Because they're not successful, wealthy, ruthlessly sought out by the opposite sex, Olympic athletes and American Idols they're a failure. They beat themselves up and worse, they stop trying. They stop trying to be better, to think harder, to take a different angle on something. They give up because they've bought into this air brushed, pedestaled ideal of "how its supposed to be" and if its not that way it doesn't count.

I flat-footed and bold-faced rebuke that idea.

When did it become a mortal sin to fail at something? I've heard failure regarded as the last great American taboo. We won't talk about it. We fear it. We hedge up our entire lives avoiding it, denying that it even exists. Well - its here, its real, its an everyday reality and most importantly its NOT our enemy.

I may be an absolute fool but failing at something isn't a crime. If you only stay on a meal plan for 2 weeks or if you fail a class or if you lose a game or declare bankruptcy. That's not the worst it can get. Those aren't good things by any means, but they're not the worst thing either. GIVING UP is a much greater offense. Not trying again, not learning, not growing, losing love for yourself - THAT is greater sin. That is what my prayer is that we can shift our cultural disgust for that character flaw.

Its a delicate insanity that we even subscribe to this perfection thing because we're all human. We all make mistakes. We all get angry. We've all skinned our knees. We've all broken someone's heart or drove by someone that needed help. We've ALL cursed at one point or another. We all have scars. And you know what, all that to me is beautiful. All of that is a lived life. And the fact that people are still getting up, are still saying their prayers, are still attempting to tell someone that they love that they love them, to love themselves. THAT is excellence. That is real courage, to not be defeated by the mistakes you made yesterday.

I mean, where did we even pick up this idea that we have the luxury of giving up? Life doesn't stop because of one defeat, one disappointment, even a string of defeats or disappointments. Life is a 90/10 game. 90% of our day is muck, it's struggle, its heartache (and believe me, I'm carrying a very heavy heart right now), its inconvenience and dirt. But 10% is pay off, is getting it right, and getting it right the right way (that does mean something and makes sense. Just think about it a little), and you know what. I'm OK with that.

I know I have a good many regions in my life that I need to improve, that I've failed at, but you know what? I am not my defeats. I am the string of small moments after those defeats that gets back up and tries again.

And - well - thats all I have to say I guess. Be nicer to yourselves and keep trying.


Kim said...

I would categorize this post as Tuesday Inspiration, because it was.

I am so very thankful for you and your thoughts and your heart and your willingness to share it all. :)

LOVE your guts!

Tracy said...

Yes! "Tuesday Inspiration"

I would also argue that failure can be helpful. Failing at something can give you direction- a different direction. Chase your strengths instead of beating yourself up about your shortcomings. Take on failure as a challenge to overcome.

This nation was built by men who took risks-pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.
- Brooks Atkinson

Tammy said...

thank you liz, i really needed that reminder.

Liz W. said...

"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want."

I say this to myself all the time, especially when I fail. It reminds me that everything is valuable in life because it can build character.

And character is more important than perfection, in my opinion.

Bravo, Liz!