A moving and wise essay on how one woman's becoming less perfectionist helped her when she had to face cancer:
Around 13 years ago, a confluence of events revealed to me how soul-sucking perfectionism was, and how much the futile striving for it was costing me in stress and anxiety. I began to understand that my zealous pursuit of knowledge was feeding arrogance, complacency and flawed answers that left me empty in crucial ways. Control was a deceptive illusion and my life, though not fake in any way, was often lived as performance art for invisible Simon Cowells.
So I forsook perfectionism, knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and the insecure need to control and be right, and the world began opening up to me in surprising ways. Coloring outside the lines led to more happiness and optimism, my character flaws became just a part of all I am, and “just OK” became permissible. In mystery, no longer a source of anxiety, I found wonder and satisfaction, even amusement. I began to value the questions, finding an odd satisfaction in them. I came to enjoy saying “I don’t know,” and “haven’t a clue!”
This put me in a very good place to learn that I had breast cancer. My cells had gone rogue – a mystery – and I didn’t have to make sense of it, explain it, or research it to death. I could just accept it as an imperfect part of life. Others had had cancer and now it was my turn. I simply wanted to go through it maintaining my core personality and sense of humor.
There’s nothing funny about cancer, but there’s a lot of funny in it and I mined it for all it was worth. Choosing to view it as an adventure, I journeyed through it without anything, including myself, being perfect. Instead I experienced an unexplainable peace foreign to my younger self.
Girl can turn a phase.