As a kid, my Dad would often talk to me about my uncompromising attitude towards life, and how I should perhaps work on changing it. These conversations would often occur as we were driving in his car; I can clearly recall the way I would scuff the carpet of the passenger side with my shoe as he spoke to me, my shoulders hunched and mouth set at an angle that would prevent a smile from forming, my mind brimming with a mixture of anger (“what does he know?”) and guarded curiosity (“maybe he’s right?”)
I’ve always been aware that I am a perfectionist, I’ve worked hard on toning it down in the last year or so, but I still find that I berate myself constantly, and I lose a lot of sleep trying to control the tightly wound coil that sits, in the centre of my mind, threatening to spring, to pounce, when I least expect it.
2012 looks to be a pretty intense year for me; I’ve teamed up with a mental health charity, to run in memory of my Mum, and have set myself the (ahem) reasonable goal of running two full marathons and two half marathons within 7 months of each other.
I am daunted.
The critical parent within me is already towering over me, wagging a finger in my face and telling me that I’m stupid, I’ve taken on too much, I won’t possibly be able to complete those races and “what the hell were you thinking?” And so I retreat into a corner, like a bashful child, feeling ashamed, silly and worried that I’m in way over my head.
The same goes for my studying; only last night during my evening class, I struggled to keep up with the information being given, and so, instead of telling myself that this is ok and giving myself a reassuring rub on the back, I chose to run to the corner again, amidst a torrent of bullets branded with “you’ll never pass the exam” and “everyone else understands, why can’t you? Maybe you should just give up now, if you can’t be perfect at this, then what’s the point?”
The thing is, I know I’m being too hard on myself. I’m the one opting to play the victim. I’m the one who hiked, alone, to the wasteland of negative-ville and chose to sit there, punching away at my self-esteem.
I’m slowly figuring that there’s a whole rainbow of colour between black and white, and it’s ok for me to gingerly linger amongst the effervescent tones of yellow, red and blue, for these colours reflect such a positive energy into the soul.
Perfectionism kills creativity, I’ve got to keep on telling myself that, and it’s also really, really boring – surely life is much more fun when you don’t spend it worrying and aiming at a benchmark that holds a bucket-load of high expectations and unattainable objectives, right?