Thursday, 21 August 2014

Perfection = Happiness: Lessons from a Recovering Perfectionist

I must be perfect or what........?

Would I rather be perfect or happy? I used to think I had to be perfect to be happy. The truth is that quest for never-ending perfection resulted in the opposite. After all, nobody and nothing is perfect every single time so how could I be truly happy if I or anyone or anything else failed to live up to expectations? It's tiring to be always looking for the next thing. It's pointless trying to always control what happens. It's futile trying to predict the future. I'm not the master and centre of the universe nor am I a psychic. Who knows why I even tried to be.

Over the last few years, I've experienced the toughest moments in my life thus far. These moments have shown me that no matter what I do, not everything will go according to my meticulously crafted plan. This isn't a fairytale life where everything leads to a happy ending. This is my life. A real life. One where you have to move beyond that happy ending and learn how to live the 'ever after'. Real life can be full of twists and turns, messy as hell, and full of surprises. But every twist and turn I had to navigate, every mess I had to clean up, and every surprise that came my way has led me to where I am now and who I am today. I have more courage than I ever thought possible. I am more resilient than I ever thought I would be. I am stronger than I gave myself credit for. I have said 'yes' when I would have normally said 'no'. I have said 'why not' instead of 'I shouldn't'. I have said 'I will' instead of 'I won't'. I have jumped in head first without looking back. So if I simply followed the straight, clean and predictable path of my perfect plan I may have missed out on all the bad times. But I would have also missed out on so many opportunities that I never would have even considered or done things I never thought possible. As American actress, Annette Funicello, said "life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful".

At times I still struggle with curbing my control freak tendencies and perfectionism. It's hard breaking these ingrained habits and long held beliefs. However I have learnt that I don't need perfection to be happy. These last few years have brought their fair share of pain and sadness. But they have also emerged as the ones filled with sheer unbridled joy as I shifted my focus to everything I did have, not everything I didn't on this so called perfect plan. If I didn't encounter these 'imperfections' I would never have discovered that being happy is not about having it all, it's about appreciating it all.

"I wanted a perfect ending. 
Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. 
Delicious ambiguity."
Gilda Radner

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