Since a young girl, I was obsessed with the idea of perfection. On Sundays, I made sure to scrub extra well in those nooks and crannies when I bathed, I exercised (like any child of the 80’s) by roller skating around my backyard and I dabbled in the arts by singing and dancing in my bedroom to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine and the like. I was determined to be well-rounded which was at the time my idea of perfection.
Flash forward a few years to high school years, my self-imposed stressful struggle with completing homework assignments and writing papers was due to my wanting them to be perfect. And perfection takes a lot of care, effort and time, resources I had little of.
Thankfully, in my early college years I learned to loosen the academic perfection grips but I still maintained a rather challenging schedule that made me a big stress case. During my third year, I was taking more than a full-load, 21 units in fact, and working at a restaurant 30 hours a week and applying to study abroad programs. My schedule was tight! Anything out of the ordinary would be the demise of my intricately planned schedule. As life has been known to do, something happened. What may have seemed like a tiny inconvenience to another person was the catalyst to my complete meltdown. Someone had parked in front of my garage, which in turn blocked me in and prevented me getting to class to take a quiz. I WAS LIVID! And not the kind of “you’re beautiful when you’re angry’-anger either. I was downright ugly. I let out every disgusting emotion. I actually kicked the car (multiple times) with my boots and ended up causing $1500 in damage. But I was a good person. I thought of myself as nice, caring and polite. How did I let myself get to this point???
I realized it was not my Sicilian-blood but the burden of stress that I chose for myself that caused me to crack under pressure. Wait? What?!? I chose this for myself? This was a shift in perspective that placed the blame on me. My actions. My choices. My behaviors. Instead of living like a victim, I needed to own up to my actions and know that this was all my wrong-doing. How many times do we really point the finger at others when a shift in perspective could illuminate our own involvement in this situation? It’s not the easy way to go about life but when did easy ever really wield us valuable results?
There is also a good argument that blame could be placed on the person parking illegally in front of my garage. But that’s the thing. If it hadn’t been that person preventing me from getting to my class, there could have been a million other things stopping me from getting there, like a flat tire or an accident on the road or… the list goes on! This is why we need to stop blaming life for dealing us a bad hand and own up to our actions. “Bad things” will happen in life. It’s how we respond to these situations that shows our true character. This is the practice in yoga called svadhyaya or self-study/self-reflection. We look at our lives and how we live with a magnifying glass and with the understanding that we are the only ones that we can change, we make the necessary adjustments.
Ultimately, in my quest for my definition of perfection, I learned a more valuable lesson of personal growth. It is in that growth that we can find ourselves closer to being whole.
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo Tolstoy