I will never be perfect, although at times I would like to believe that I am and that I’m holding it all together really well. When things aren’t perfect, I feel a deep-seated need to change or control them, and it typically comes from a place of fear. It’s a fear of inadequacy, of failure, and of regret. Recently, someone helped me see that we just have to decide to do things from a place of love, and that extends to loving ourselves and having patience with all of our quirks and idiosyncrasies. Obviously, this can be incredibly difficult and we all have unique coping mechanisms for dealing with the external and internal pressures of this task.
For me, accepting imperfection is about internal inadequacy. It has always been about being “good enough,” disguising itself as a need for control.
Whether this stems from an inability to prevent the separation of my parents, or the death of loved ones, or the abandonment of lovers, I can’t be sure. What I am sure of is that its existence and pervasiveness in my psyche continually prevents me from enjoying the present moment, taking deeper internal risks, and truly being vulnerable to those I love.
I guess the thought has been that if I have control, I will be able to hide my flaws. That I will always feel secure, never experience anxiety or loss, never be abandoned or betrayed, and enable myself to avoid the pain that at times comes hand in hand with intimate relationships. Or maybe it’s because I still have yet to come to terms with the fact that eventually we will all die, and that personal growth is never over, even in death, and that there is no finish line. I will never “figure it all out,” which for me, equates itself to not being “good enough.” When you are someone who struggles with control, or particularly, perfectionism, this truth is simply unacceptable. The idea that there is no obtainable goal is unfathomable, and I’ve become so accustomed to always running at one speed, immersing myself into goal implementation, and trying to prove myself in an attempt to avoid this truth, that I’ve forgotten what it actually means.
There is undisputable beauty entwined in the fact that our growth as human beings is unpredictable and exponential. It is incredible to consider that we are ever-changing and infinite. The deeper realization that we are never going to be more or less perfect than we are in this moment, simply being, is profound. We are never going to be able to control this fact, and we’re certainly never going to be “finished” actualizing and evolving.
Embracing this truth has forced me to confront some of my core beliefs about trust, control, and security that I have held onto so tightly for all these years. I realized that my need for control has caused me to behave manipulatively, giving love then withholding it. This behavior has disassembled several promising relationships in their infancy, demanding unrealistic openness and security from my partner and dissolved several friendships with unattainable expectations. Being honest about these things and admitting that I’m not perfect has been one of my more difficult self-evaluations, while traveling has only amplified the gravity of these realizations.
Yet, through these things, I’m starting to truly understand that all of my busy-ness, avoidance, and attempts to control my external environment are not going to make me suddenly feel adequate. They are not going to take away my feelings of loneliness, or give me the peace of mind and acceptance that comes with trusting life and its processes.
If I continually refuse to face myself, I will miss out on everything else.
I will miss out on the subtle, affectionate nuances of my day-to-day interactions with the people surrounding me, the warmth of the sun on my freckled shoulders, the sweet exhilaration of a man’s hesitation, trumped by his curiosity to know the hidden parts of me, the rare and sacred Skype sessions with my expecting sister, and the simplistic beauty of life’s natural ebb and flow.
We all struggle with inadequacy, the fear of rejection, and that we are somehow not good enough just by being who we are. I think the real challenge is being able to look deeper into this fear, to recognize it’s falsehood and how it reveals itself, be aware of our patterns and how they affect others, and then to love ourselves fiercely anyway.