Perfect protest.

Coincidentally enough, as I have been thinking about perfectionism and paralysis this week, the very same topic has been all over the blogosphere (well, the little part of it that I inhabit, anyway). Clearly, I've been neglecting my blog reader, so I'm a bit late with this, but thought it was worth the post anyway. Thanks to Amy for linking me to this: Perfect Protest.

I love that you can see Steven's reflection in the window.

I usually find self-help books pretty hokey, but I'm looking forward to reading Brown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection. 
I'm sitting here this evening on a Saturday night, surrounded by puzzle pieces and random toys, dishes in the sink that need washing, thirty different craft projects and ideas in my little brain that I'm itching to work on, and at least a million and one student essays that need graded. And yet, I'm happy amongst the chaos. I'm lying on the couch under a quilt my grammy made for me, snuggled up with Steven as he watches Spiderman. I am doing enough. I am enough. Nothing is perfect, but all is right with the world.


I can think of a million and one reasons not to do something. Remind me to do it anyway.

I'm a thinker, and an analyst, and I tend to be hypercritical of myself. If I can't be the best at something, I don't want to do it at all. As a result, I almost never do anything.

I'm famous in my family for making ugly scenes out of moments that should be light-hearted and/or inconsequential. (Hey guys, remember that time I upset the Trivial Pursuit board at Thanksgiving, sending colorful little pie pieces flying through the air and skittering across the coffee table? All because I KNEW the right answers to EVERYONE ELSE'S questions, but not my own, and I got pissed off because I was losing? And I yelled swear words in the presence of impressionable children and stormed out, but forgot to take my purse with me? Yeah...that was fun, wasn't it. *sigh* Good times.)

If you beat me at Balderdash, or Scrabble, or even Chinese checkers, I'll respect you, but I probably won't like you very much.

In short, I'm kind of a jerk.

I can't cook if my kitchen isn't spotless. (It's never spotless, thus all the eating out.)
I can't sew if one stitch is screwed up. (At least one stitch is always screwed up.)
I can't scrapbook if I make one wrong cut. (I measure once, and cut...)
I can't write if I can't find the perfect words. (Hence the dearth of recent blog posts.)

Do you see where this is going, people? I am a perfectionist who knows she can never be perfect. I'm a master of self sabotage and a cultivator of discontent. No matter what I do or say, it will be the wrong thing. Therefore...I find myself on my day off crawling under a warm quilt, watching five episodes of Weeds back-to-back while eating three-fourths of a bag of orange creme Halloween Oreos.


And then I despise myself for all of my perceived shortcomings.

Somehow, I was under the impression that once I got help with my mood issues, sought and received medical attention for the depression I've suffered since adolescence, I would be fixed. Cured. Made better. It never occurred to me that depression is an on-going disease, one that I will battle for the rest of my life. The disease does not conveniently disappear just because I take a pill or two everyday. When I have a downturn, I get angry. I get ashamed, and I feel guilty about not feeling well. I'm supposed to be fine! I have no tangible reason not to be happy! But maybe...if my apartment were clean, I'd be happy. If I could sew without mistakes, I'd be happy. If I could finish a scrapbook page or a blog post, I'd be happy. It's not ME; it's these outward circumstances over which I have so little control...or over which I WOULD have control if I were just a smarter, more ambitious, skinnier, healthier, more attractive person.

Wrong. All wrong.

I'm not saying all of this to justify my being a jerk. I'm not blaming depression for making me act like a pain in the ass. I'm just saying that I'm a jerk to myself just as often as I'm mean to anyone else. Much, much more often, actually.

I'm mean to myself. I berate myself until I curl into a ball and achieve stasis.

In order to recover from this mode I have to allow myself to be imperfect, remind myself that imperfection is not only inevitable, but beautiful. It is what makes me who I am. If I were perfect, I'd be a Stepford wife, and truthfully, I'd much rather be fun, quirky, too-often-a-pain-in-the-ass Rachel.

I can list off in my head a million and one reasons why my feeble efforts at life are inadequate, why I shouldn't even try to cook bacon or knit a scarf, or hang a picture. And if I let myself, I will. I have an internal running commentary to remind me of the specific ways in which I fall short. But every once in a while, instead of listening to it, I tell myself to shut up. I kick my own ass, and I start hammering nails into the wall. I know my frame isn't ever going to hang straight.

Fuck it. I like it crooked anyway.