Fingernail Polish and Perfectionism

Perfectionism. 

There I said it. 

I used to be a perfectionist. I remember once in sixth or seventh grade, I had been working on a fabulous art pottery project. The finished product was, as I look back on it now, beautiful. 

But at the time, not perfect. And so after hours and hours of working on it, I picked it up and threw it on the floor. It shattered into a hundred little pieces. 

Drama. Tears. Regret. 

I had to start all over. I tried putting it back together. As punishment for myself. I couldn’t make it “right” and so I quit. 

Getting sober felt like that. Hitting bottom was like taking all of me and slamming it to the floor with disgust. I remember lying on the couch and being all the little broken pieces of me and wondering if I would ever rise back up as a whole person. 

The beauty of all that was indeed, rising up and recognizing that there is in fact beauty in being broken. That all those little pieces have their own little edges…each with wounds…still gaping or scars now strong. 

I am so much kinder to myself. 

And to others. 

Because I just know that who I was before I got sober wasn’t evil, or mean…I was just lost, broken and trying to figure it out Somewhere along the way I got the idea that being broken and messy and outside the lines made me a very bad person. 

One of my best friends in the whole wide universe is discovering her tendencies to hold herself to some kind of TRULY unachievable standard of perfection. 

Yesterday, she and I talked candidly about the ways that need for impossible perfection showed and continues to show up in our own lives. 

Sometimes it’s physical…back problems, diseases, a compromised immune system, addiction…all that shame of not being perfect loads up on the inside and starts eeking out through our bodies. 

Or maybe it’s in our tone of voice…a defensive one trying to defend our brokenness…this need to explain ourselves and our imperfections…to make excuses for the “not being perfect enoughs” that actually need no excuses…because being human means being imperfect and perfect at the same time. 

Judgments of others is another way. Oh the standard I used to hold people up to…to make ME feel better about my brokenness. 

So yesterday, at my friend’s house I asked her for a bottle of fingernail polish. 

She had one. 

I took that polish out and haphazardly painted her pinkie fingernail. 

That polish was all outside the lines, over half the nail, thicker on one side and thinner on the other. 
And then I painted mine, the same way. 

And said, “Sister…this is okay. See? It’s a mess. You will survive. You are no less of a person. 

As a matter of fact let this be a little mini-symbol for being imperfect. 

See? It’s beautiful and funny and awkward and a conversation starter that goes straight to the human of you.”

This morning I sit on my little porch and realize how much I love my friend Ann Davant Crehore and the fact that she is okay with my sharing this. I love her and you and all our broken, messy, thick and thin pieces of perfect imperfection.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s