I’ve been wanting to write for a while now but like most overtired and overworked college students at the end of a semester, my brain has become sedimentary and incapable of advanced thought.
The nice thing about studying at a university, writing papers for classes or writing stories as an intern is you are given assignments. If you’re not given an assignment, you are given a general audience to write for. Or topic to write about. Or event to cover.
But when you just withdrew from college to move across the country your mind becomes cluttered. Cluttered and fast. And with every day leading up to moving day comes an increased sense of urgency and restlessness as fast and fleeting as a run-on sentence that makes you cringe.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. I have to.
I believe that I have a higher calling. That we all have higher callings.
I believe that every person on this planet is in the place they are supposed to be in at any given moment.
I believe that life is not linear.
I believe that life is not perfect at all and perfectionism should not be a goal to work towards but instead a concept to run away from.
But I didn’t always think this.
Growing up I was a perfectionist. Starting as early as age 15 I would wake up at 4:30 a.m. and go outside in the pitch-black, uninviting cold which is upstate New York, and I would run. A lot. Like six miles.
And it was easy for me, to do that. That’s what you were supposed to do. That’s what every successful person did, right? They ran six miles before their school day. They had a job. They were on a sports team. They had good grades. They had a boyfriend. They had the perfect social media presence, the perfect body, the popular friends, good grades.
But, did they have the perfect mind?
When you look back on old memories, old relationships and past experiences you see them with a distorted, overly optimistic perspective. You see the smiles, the Instagram “likes”, the laughs.
But you don’t see the time spent feeling alone in a crowded room. Constantly uneasy. The restlessness.
You don’t see the bags under your eyes, the broken heart, the anxiety attacks, your shrinking body in the mirror. The nights spent on your bedroom floor with your back to the door grieving over your imperfections. Shaming yourself into believing that you are inadequate and unworthy of love, success or happiness because you do not fit into the mold that you have developed in your mind.
When you are a perfectionist, your own vision of yourself becomes so distorted that every compliment dealt to you is turned into a new standard which you must overcome or a new goal you must achieve. By constantly achieving for “perfect” you are missing out on all of the imperfections that make life beautiful.
Now I’m not saying you should live life complacent with no goals, aspirations or motivations. I’m saying that by following your intuition you can live a truly perfect life but you must first detach yourself from perfectionism and the limits which it places on you.
What if instead of killing yourself every day in a rat-race routine and jam-packed schedule which leave you feeling depleted, emotionless and in-human—you followed your intuition?
Yes, you need to have a job to pay the bills and take care of yourself. Yes, that job may not be the one you want or the one you went to college for. But what if while being at said job you used your free time, not on constructing a so called “perfect” version of yourself, but on working on developing the passion that is your higher calling? And what if, over time, that development grew so large that it took a life of its own and one day you were able to pay the bills with it?
What if instead of trying to fit-in with a specific crowd or pouring your attention into toxic friendships, you tried to make new ones? What if instead of sitting in a room of people who obviously do not share the same ideologies as you you walked next-door? What if instead of moving from partner to partner you opened your eyes to the person who was sitting in front of you all along? What if instead of constantly swiping right and left and tindering and bumbling and OK Cupiding, you looked up from your phone?
What if instead of spending your money on getting trashed at bars or house parties you spent it on a yoga membership or new books or new experiences that enrich your life and mind and soul instead of destroy your body?
The steps described above may seem unusual to you and that’s because society tells us that if we follow the beaten path, that that curves and winds and twists instead of the linear one which it places us on from birth, that we will be unsuccessful. Society teaches us that we must work our entire lives, climbing the capitalistic corporate ladder, so we can achieve some sort of “perfect” standard of living that leaves us stuck. Society tells us that we must always pine for more, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing until you consider what it wants you to have more of.
Society wants you to have more noise or more stuff. It makes you feel like you need to have it all. Handbags, shoes, furniture, cars, make up. It makes you feel like you have to have the perfect body and tells you the only way to obtain it is through supplements, diet programs and instagram-filters. It tells you you have to have beautiful hair and clear skin, courtesy of beauty products it pushes on you with a 75 billion U.S. dollar advertising industry. It tells you you must take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans (if you are lucky enough to even be able to do this) which you will spend the rest of your life paying off at a job you absolutely hate.
And all of this makes us emotionless and robotic souls who have to resort to dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, OKCupid and the like and swipe away our love-lives, dating random strangers, to try to feel something. But of course, it also tells you that the perfect person doesn’t have feelings. The perfect person doesn’t need a relationship. Deep, true love is too messy for the perfect person. The perfect person just needs someone to pose with for a picture on a Ferris-wheel for “likes.”
If I have learned anything during my mere 20 years on the planet, it is that I am not perfect.
I don’t want to spend my nights drinking at bars or parties and spend my money on Ubers and Lyfts and tequila shots just to kiss strangers and have them tell me I’m cute.
While I value education and acknowledge how lucky I am to be able to attend college, I will not study what society promises me will give me a job. I will study what enriches my soul and I will love every second of it. I will not cheat my way through school in classes I hate in topics that don’t bring me to my higher power. I will pursue what sets my heart and mind on fire.
I will not pour my energy into friendships that leave me feeling empty, exhausted or uncomfortable. I want to instead spend my time watering the friendships that leave me feeling safe, loved and light.
I don’t want to spend my paychecks on manicures or Kate Spade bags or Chipotle (even though it tastes pretty damn good).
I don’t want to live a perfect life anymore. Being perfect is anything from perfection and is simply not worth it.
I challenge you to pause and reevaluate who you are and what your higher calling is. Listen to your mind and soul, they have a message for you.
And while it may be imperfect I promise you it’s worth listening to.
(This post was originally shared on the timesunion.com)