Let me tell you a story.
This morning I had 2 major goals: one, to get out of my meeting on time (11:30am) so that I could catch the train to the university and meet one of my friends to exchange some money for dance tickets; two, make the exchange and catch the 12:00pm bus to take me back home so I have time to get to my orthodontist appointment at 1pm.
Let’s see how things panned out:
The meeting didn’t actually end until about 11:39am, therefore making me 9 minutes late already. I quickly threw on my coat, grabbed my bags, and flew down the stairs to the train. Upon entering the station, I noticed a throng of people coming towards me. Oh, shit, was my thought. Yup. It seems I had missed the train by about 30 seconds. Lovely. And the next train wasn’t due to come for another 10 minutes. But, it’s only 11:42am, which means in 10 minutes it’ll be 11:52am, and the ride from this station to the university takes about 5 minutes (according to the schedule), which means it’ll only be 11:58am, which means I will still have 2 minutes to get upstairs, find my friend, make the transaction, and catch the 12:00pm bus.
I’m losing my breath just writing this.
Finally the train came, if memory serves me correctly… at about 11:55am! Oh, God, pleeeeeeaaaaasssssseeeeee let me catch the bus. I swear, I’ll be really good. Please, please, please let me get there on time! Shit, shit, shit, I knew I should’ve just left when the clock struck 11:30am. Then I wouldn’t be having this problem. Stupid, stupid, stupid….
And on, and on, and on. And the minutes kept ticking: 11:56am, 11:57am, 11:58am… 11:59am! One minute!
As soon as that train stopped and the doors opened, I was The Flash. I ran up the escalators (one of which was not working… You kidding me, God?) and then I turned towards the stairs, my cell phone in hand ready to call my friend saying, “I’m here!” I looked up… and there he was, waiting for me. Oh, sweet Jesus. I breathlessly ran/walked up those stairs, handed him the cheque as he passed the tickets to me, and stumbled out the door and onto the bus. I MADE IT! I sat down in a seat by myself, struggling to catch my breath (holy crap, do I ever need to get back into shape), a headache forming, and feeling slightly nauseated.
Now, the question presents itself: was it worth it?
I guess to answer the question, I have to look at why I needed to make this transaction, why I needed to do it today, why I’d feel like an awful failure if I didn’t get it done.
To put it simply, I was doing a favour for a couple of friends and because I had a work meeting today, I was off super early and had some time to get things done. Also, the dance is tomorrow night and since I’ve got a cold, who knows if I’m even going. So, I needed to get it done today and I wanted to get it done before my appointment because I didn’t want to have to go back into the city after I’d already gone home. Nope. I’d do it in between the meeting and the appointment and it would all be perfect.
Oh, that word: perfect. If I’m being completely honest with myself (I almost said perfectly honest… seriously), I am a perfectionist and I somehow equate my worth with how ‘perfectly’ I can do things.
THIS IS BAD! Nobody’s perfect. It’s a completely unrealistic goal, but I still feel like if I just work hard enough I could possibly scratch it. NOPE! I wrote about Dr. Brené Brown last time and this is a huge theme in her book. One of the things she says in The Gifts of Imperfection really struck me when I read it: “Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance” (p. 56).
Well… that’s just great. So, this whole time that I’ve been trying to “get it right,” I’ve been getting it wrong because all of those ‘right’ things were basically done just so people would like me, accept me, and approve the things I’ve done. Wow, talk about not being authentic. This whole time I’ve been measuring my worth by the things I can do ‘right’ according to other people’s expectations.
I am now realizing how similar this sound to the last post I wrote about being authentic and doing things for me because I believe they are important, rather than worrying about what other people would think if I couldn’t get the job done ‘as planned’. I guess these situations will just keep coming my way until it actually sinks in.
I will mark one triumph, however. As I was sitting on the bus, feeling nauseated and gross, I stumbled across this thought, that maybe trying so hard to please the others in this situation wasn’t really worth the stress I felt (and the nausea). Instead of continuing to beat myself up, I breathed slowly and deeply focusing on these thoughts: “Nobody’s perfect,” “You are worthy,” “Everyone makes mistakes,” “Nobody’s perfect,” “You are worthy,” “Everyone makes mistakes,” and eventually, I calmed down and a sense of peace settled over me. I still had a headache and felt slightly nauseated, but the cynical thoughts swirling around my head quieted down.
And, so, to end this not-so-fairy tale, the bus got me back to the parkade where I parked my car, and I got to my appointment by 12:55pm. Would it have been so bad to be late? Well, now that I know that the orthodontist didn’t see me until 1:15pm, no, it probably wouldn’t have been. In fact, I probably still would have been early.
P.s. It’s my cousin Michael’s 24 birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mike!