I could still list the first ten people who to subscribed to my blog, and I can acutely recall that tingly feeling – a meshing of keen excitement and anxiety – knowing that someone other than a teacher was reading my words. My second subscriber was Joss at Crowning Crone. In an early post, she once left a simple comment that deeply resonated with me, one which I won’t ever forget.
Let go of the idea that everything needs to be perfect.
I’m the biggest perfectionist I’ve ever met. It’s a gift and a curse. On the positive end, things get done, and they get done to the highest standard. At the other end of the spectrum, I expect a lot from myself, and though 99% of the time that’s a good thing, sometimes I place too much pressure on myself and expect more than I’m able to give. Settling for superb, above average, or even good enough is not a bad thing, yet it’s one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.
A few days ago, I wrote down all my major goals. I quickly realized that several contradicted each other, some could not possibly be completed in the time frame I’d set for myself, and there were many that I’m no longer passionate about. I reviewed the list, threw it away, and then gave my permission to pursue anything I’d like. I could revert back to everything on the list if I’d like or take on new goals, and do so whenever I pleased. That may have been the most freeing and liberating thing I’ve ever done for myself.
The last post was a bit dramatic and, rereading it, I come across as a bit despondent. I tend to experience every emotion intensely, and then exaggerate it further through poignant language. I often have to mentally structure situations into zero-sum games where it’s either win or lose, in order to motivate myself to act. In this particular ”game,” I set up the situation as if I’d lost everything and had to start from scratch. The past few days, I’ve shut off my computer and phone, which has allow me to quiet my mind and follow my intuition. A few hours were spent crying, moping, and feeling completely hopeless, but it’s overall been refreshing. I’ve upped the time I spend meditating each day, made a conscious effort to be more mindful in every moment, and done only things that I could enjoy.
I received the latest edition of Scientific American Mind, in which there’s a full section on education reform, which I am a huge proponent of (including teaching young student mindfulness, neuroanatomy, and strength building). I’ve watched several episodes of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman and have re-watched several of my favorite TED talks on neurology, and have thus been thinking a lot about metacognition and metaphysics. Humans spend their lives thinking about thinking and considering their personal space in this world; however, we are so infinitesimal when you consider that each of us is only one individual on a massive planet, which is a tiny speck in an expansive galaxy, a small part of a behemothic universe, which is one of thousands of universes in the multiverse. That really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
I took a portrait sketching class over the summer, and spent a few hours the other day working on a new sketch. There is something truly invigorating about being wholly absorbed in and focused on a project, especially one which is done purely out of pleasure and without extrinsic reward.
I spent several hours driving aimlessly with my best friend, who is studying cognitive and neuropsychology and very much interested in astrophysics. I often feel like she’s a more emotionally stable and assertive version of myself. We talked about everything imaginable, passed a 20-foot tall inflatable Ronald McDonald head, and ended up in the middle of nowhere at a dead-end, LED-lit cemetery. That evening shifted my perspective tremendously. Though I only have one close friend, I could not be more grateful to have her in my life. Never take for granted those who will always be there for you; and always be that friend who would go out of their way to help someone else.
I had a job interview this morning, and though I went in a bit pessimistic and unprepared, I’ve been through so many interviews this past year that it was effortless. The interviewer was so impressed by our discussion that she offered to pass my application on to someone hiring a higher up, full-time position. That was such a pleasant surprise, considering a few days ago I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough money for groceries.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is release all expectations, end self-blame, and abate pressures to succeed. What’s meant to be will be, and this too shall pass, whether good or bad. I’ve decided to release my self-imposed obligation to write here and respond to every comment, which I believe will allows me to share more meaningful ideas, rather than just write for the sake of showing up. If I feel inspired to work on grad school applications, work on editing my novel, or brainstorm ways in which I can make money doing something that I love, than I will; if I don’t feel like it, then there’s no need to work on a project, nor feel guilty if I don’t. There is no need to blog daily; I don’t need several close friends to be happy; I don’t need a PhD from an Ivy League school in order to succeed in life; I don’t need anything but to let go of the idea everything needs to be perfect and trust that everything will fall into place, to trust that that process has already begun.
I’ll be around, my friends.