I just had a mini epiphany while waiting in the drive-through at Starbucks to get my daily dose of ice tea. The revelation said in no uncertain terms: “You are pretty darn hard on yourself, Brian.” After sitting with that for a few seconds, I then had no choice but to agree. I am hard on myself, and I realized I do it to myself in a variety of ways that are all based on my own personal expectations of perfection.
I can be affected by something as simple as what I choose to eat or how I spend my free time. Let me explain. I eat pretty darn healthy. It stems from all those years of training for Ironman triathlons. I got into a lot of good habits and enjoyed how I felt eating healthy food. So, while I was sitting in the drive-through, I had a desire for a scone. And as soon as I thought about actually making the purchase, I began to feel guilt and shame with myself because it “wasn’t a healthy choice.” I felt like if I ate it, I was not allowing myself to be the best version of me I could be.
But then I realized that all of these years when I did allow myself to eat something not particularly healthy, I never really truly enjoyed the experience because I felt I was letting myself down. How crazy is that?
I can also be hard on myself when I take time off from working. There is a part of me that feels like I should be constantly clawing away to reach my goals and intentions. I feel like if I don’t, I will lose ground and risk not “getting there,” wherever “there” may be.
My chosen line of work has also played into this. I don’t have a traditional 9-5 job where I can come home and allow myself to relax knowing I put in a good day’s work. I am an actor and writer. Both jobs could be considered competitive as well as sporadic. Because of this, it feels like I’m on one continuous hamster wheel of trying to create content, network, be noticed, audition, and find work. That is one hell of a tiring existence if one doesn’t allow some time to breathe, play and set aside the grind from time to time.
This method of operation has been both a blessing and a curse for me. Being focused and driven has allowed me to accomplish a lot of things that I have truly enjoyed. It has made a positive difference and contributed immensely to my personal growth process. But some of this occurred at the expense of trying to reach a destination instead of truly loving my journey. I want to love my journey. And that is where I need to let go of the “perfectionist” in me.
According to Elizabeth Gilbert:
Perfection is a fancy word for fear.
She also thinks that it can advertise itself as a virtue but that it kills joy and happiness. I couldn’t agree more. It has a sneaky way of making you feel special and different while potentially sapping away your ability to start or even finish something.
I can’t be too hard on myself because of the way I used to operate because I know I am here to learn and grow. I also recognize that wisdom comes from forgiveness, which originates from compassion, which is founded in love. And this love must be directed at myself before I can truly share it with others.
I want to move forward and allow myself to truly enjoy something as simple as a meal, time off from work, or loving exactly where I am in my journey. Sometimes I make it harder than it should be. And if I take it one step further, it really comes down to me feeling worthy of receiving these simple pleasures that I have been denying myself that life affords – sounds like fodder for a blog post.
By the way, I did get the scone – and it tasted amazing!
Brian’s book Habits for Success – Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar is available at Amazon.