Well, hello, dearhearts. I was very much hoping our paths would cross again, so I brought some extra food for thought, just in case. And, if you have adventurous tastes, perhaps on some level, you can appreciate my most recent “butterfinger fragments”.
“Be-eff-eff’s“, you’ll recall from my last/first blog, are clumsily-grasped understandings, (none of the elegance of “ah-ha moments“, but equally powerful).
Second, don’t worry, I’ll spare you the less savoury details. Suffice it to say, I found myself intensely reluctant to tackle a recurring and highly do-able task. It was one of those, I can move mountains—yet stumble over molehills—conundrums that trip me up sometimes.
Increasingly stressed-out, and highly doubtful I’d ever unscrew the lid of this jar of pickles, I decided to take a more rational approach. Perhaps you know it. It’s called the sleep-away…you retire for the night in hopes that, upon waking, what the elves did for the cobbler, fate has done for you…
Okay, hearing myself just now, I must admit that sometimes I can’t resist obscure frames of reference.
This one stems from a delightful Grimm’s fairy tale, whereby, having given most of what he has to others, the poor shoemaker has only enough leather for one more pair of shoes.
He makes the cut-outs (in my case, a metaphor for a collection of carefully-crafted forebodings, and pinking-sheared (jagged) anxieties), goes to bed, and wakes to find that everything is right as rain…magically, his work has been done for him, and he prospers as a result.
However, highly introspective and intimately familiar with my own particular brand of…ahem…complexity, I was blindsided when, in all its impossible glory, my well-heeled answer finally came sauntering into view….and,boy, was it rich!
Yes, friends, in that moment I knew, without a doubt, that I’d been spiralling into the depths of perfectionism. And my initial confusion was overridden by the horrible and undeniable rightness of it all as protested loudly inside my head,
“Perfectionism?! What?! Me…me!? A perfectionist?!?! Perfectionism by definition implies the absurd notion that one could ever be perfect…which I know I most certainly am not!”
Given hind-sight, my overly-ambitious dismay should have been a huge clue that perfectionism isn’t rational. It is born of self-recriminations, and criticisms, and unrealistic expectations–and its pursuit becomes a deflection that steers us away from our authentic (imperfect) selves.
Thankfully, I can report another “However”; because once I picked my proverbial jaw up off the floor, I was able to reflect on childhood lessons that, at times, still come in to play. And, so, the mysteries of my mind began to unravel.
Early warnings, that the necessity of working twice as hard will result in getting half the credit deserved (which, however well-meaning, leaves you feeling ten times as bad), was followed by a subsequent lesson. Specifically, when the aforementioned prediction fails, you can become a target of those who see your over-achievements as some kind of competition.
Now, aside from the fact that I subscribe to the quote—“I’m not in competition with anyone: I want us all to win”—I am spotlight-ambivalent. That is to say, driven to succeed/to help others succeed, I’m drawn to the light; but can become really uncomfortable when others point out how brightly I shine. That’s when I am most susceptible to self-deprecation/sabotage.
(A parallel process is the moment when an earnest child finally learns to ride a bike, and her elated parents exclaim with delight. Suddenly self-conscious, she remembers to be insecure, gets all panicked, wobbly, and topples herself over before she gathers enough speed to hurt herself.)
Thankfully, committed to freeing myself from destructive habits, my pursuit of greater understanding and courage inspires my spoon-full-of-sugar creativity. Seeing the lighter side of growth makes it less intimidating by nipping the urgency to get-it-all-right, right now, in the bud. And, because I know the world is better for having you in it, I want to encourage you to stay the course, too.
So, for what it’s worth, here’s a hard-learned lesson…
When travelling the path of least resistance (defined, paradoxically, as trying too hard and not hard enough), my ensuing devolvement is an unflinching reminder that I’m beside myself because I won’t get out of my own way. The issue is, much like Gizmo, I can be terribly afraid of bright light.
That last observation will only make sense if you’ve seen the movie, “Gremlins”. But stay with me, if you will: from here on, the news gets much bett….
We interrupt the regularly scheduled musings to bring the latest news in a long series of scandalier take-downs. Dubbed The Chumbawamaba Chumps, these scofflaws refuse to stay in their place and seek hitches and glitches in the Too-Big-For-Your-Britches legislation.
Consequently, we have changed the names of these repeat offenders to further isolate them as they, “…get knocked down, but they get up again…” because they refuse to fall in line. Chief Offender will advise them of their transgressions.
“Show-Off McShowy”, you have run afoul of the Grease Police, elite members of the Grease Keepers who patrol any number of slippery slopes… You have once again been caught acting shady while dimming your light. This misstep constitutes trespassing; and ignorance of Darwin’s (dog-eat-dog) law allows no grounds for a heel.
In light of repeated protests, your attempted self-diminishments are evidence of evasive maneuvers; proof that—on some level—you suspect that you have value/are threat to status quo. Therefore, you are being arrested for development …raise your hands in supplication, declare and surrender all gifts, and prepare for a strip-you-of-your-talent search.
If lucky, once judged, you will be released on your own recognizance—provided you report to, and applaud, all who have, or will, give testimony against you. Furthermore, all undeclared dreams are considered contraband, your ball-and-chain ankle bracelet will alert the authorities should you dare beyond designated colouring lines, and you must report to your appropriation officer on a regularly-random basis. Any violations of these conditions will put you at significant risk of never again being included in mainstream society; doomed to swim against the tide for the remainder of your days. Do you understand these restrictions as they have been imposed upon you?”
Take-down complete, we now return you to whatever it is you are tuned into. For some reason, we cannot decipher the strange coded messages being relayed….over and out.
Humbly, here’s the moral of my message:
Giving , while reserving plenty of what makes us joyful and peaceful, is challenging enough. We can’t expect to do our (healthy) best while putting undo pressure on ourselves to be more and less of what we are not designed for. Nor can we allow haters to intimidate us.
Think of it this way, we leave the lights on so burglars will think we are present and won’t try to invade our homes and rob us of the valuables they don’t want to earn for themselves. So, too, should we shine our lights so brightly that thieves will not risk being seen for who they are….
Shine so brightly that your family, friends and conscientious passers-by will automatically come to investigate if they see that your lights are dimmed…and will marshal their support-reserves if they suspect that your lights are burning out.
And let’s show our world-wide neighbors much love by switching on to full effect.
P.S. It’s a day early, but I want to share a pun that my brilliant best friend came up with….Happy Pal-In-Times Day (well, the original version is “Happy Pal-en-Times Day”…take your pick, if you so choose). 🙂 God bless you!
P.P.S. I almost forgot to explain another obscure reference…Chumbawamba is a band with an awesome celebratory song about resilience…”Tubthumpiing” (“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down…”).