If 2020 was for reflection and 2021 was for healing, 2022 has been all things trust.
This year, I decided to do more, live more, and (over)think less.
This may seem simple, but for the kid who was sprouting grey hairs by third grade,
it’s been the ultimate challenge.
Inspired by fellow anxious human Shonda Rhimes, and her book Year of Yes,
Year of Mess catalogues my experience moving away from perfectionism and learning to embrace the mess.
In the interest of transparency (and absolving myself of any potential accountability) you should know I have zero formal qualifications to be giving anyone unsolicited life advice. I’m just someone who has experienced a lot and spent a great deal of time reflecting and reading to cope with said experience.
I’m a student, but not even a psych student
I’m a Communication student so, really, I just read stuff and criticize it. It’s like a BA in disliking something and connecting it to some other thing you also dislike.
I’m an actor, but I’ve never played a doctor (or a nurse for that matter) so I don’t even have experience pretending I have experience.
I’ve been to therapy but never long enough to do any real work because (you guessed it) the perfectionist in me was too concerned with “winning” therapy.
And the first therapist I saw, actually made me feel like I had. Not with a gold ribbon or an affirming “well done, son” (note: in this fictional scenario, they are my father/basketball coach and I am their teenage son desperately seeking approval) but the first time I met that therapist, they told me they didn’t think any worksheets or reading assignments would be helpful for me. That I was already practicing a high level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
I felt like next they were going to hand me an application for AP therapy and an accompanying study guide or host a convocation.
Congratulations! Your brain is already perfect!
I had been so concerned with having the “perfect” first therapy session that I’d filtered everything I said.
I told the therapist that the thought of being late gave me “some” anxiety but not that it also made me contemplate the value of my life.
I told them my school grades were important to me but not that I forfeited everything else in my life to focus on them (as early as grade four).
I talked about my (non)relationship with my parents but failed to share any of the blame (also, AP Therapy isn’t a thing and neither is a therapy convocation. Your prize is ending your family’s generational trauma *insert confetti here*).
Perfectionism also happens to award prizes, but only to its most loyal members! The prize for being entrenched in making “perfect” art includes emotional exhaustion and dull work. The prize for productivity perfectionism is burnout and serotonin depletion. And last, but certainly not least, is the prize for overall perfectionism which includes a lifetime subscription to overwhelming dissatisfaction! Ooooo! Aaaaaa!
Painful sarcasm aside, (sorry!) releasing perfectionism and embracing uncertainty has been an ongoing journey for me. The perfection pursuit is exhausting and, to be honest, impossible.
When did we stop being okay with imperfection?
When did we stop letting ourselves be messy?
What happened to the kid who hung from the monkey bars with scabby, bruised knees and made up songs on the bus?
The kid who filled their pockets with rocks and woodchips, just because, and scribbled on the back of take-out menus.
The goal of this website isn’t to encourage you to ditch your 9 to 5 and start scavenging for rocks but, rather, to share how experiences of trust and play have helped me reimagine my relationship to productivity, creativity, and self and come to embrace the joy of uncertain, imperfect mess.
Thank you for being here ^_^