Progress, not perfection
I have this friend who loves to post these insanely cheerful Facebook status updates. She reminds us every day to love ourselves, to be all happy-happy, joy-joy about our families and privileged lives. It’s this relentless reminder—”Hey today’s a good day to be fabulous and amazing, to love your flawed, gorgeous, incorrigible self, and to spread sugar coated, rainbow sprinkled kindness wherever you go.”
At first, I kinda liked it. I would say, “Yeah, I can do that. I should do that. I will do that.” I’d think: Good for her reminding me that I can make today a great day.
Until I realized I was being asked to be amazing and fabulous every day.
Too many days of fabulosity-urgings, while simultaneously being told to fawn over my flaws with tenderness and compassion added up to “Enough!” and the big eye roll.
Seriously lady, stop telling me to be happy every danged day! I don’t always feel amazing, and don’t even feel like trying to be amazing, and moreover, sometimes I don’t appreciate the wonder of my existence or the people in it, nor do I want to! Sometimes, I want someone to be kind to me, to go the extra mile for me, to whisk me away and dunk me in a tub of Calgon bubbles.
But that doesn’t happen. I’m fully aware that my experience of my life is dependent entirely on me. Occasionally, in my exhausted, PMS moments, I’m pretty pissed off about that fact.
I scrolled by her posts for a few weeks.
But they are hard to ignore. People love to be reminded that they are worthwhile—and that the moments of extra effort to be kind, to promote goodness, to speak up and take action are worth it.
It’s just not always possible, is the thing.
Some days the best I can do is lick my wounds. I dole out generosity and get back sarcasm, annoyance, stone-walling.
Some days I hug myself in the morning, only to ricochet into bludgeoning self-talk in the afternoon that leaves me a virtual black eye.
I want to be all things to all the people I love every single day. I want to nourish a gauzy generous kind view of myself. I want to notice the good in today rather than romanticizing yesterday or longing for tomorrow.
I simply can’t all the time.
When I come to the end of myself—my energies, my optimism, my heart, my hope, my fantasies, my best insights, my greatest strengths—I remember the message from the 12 step programs:
Progress, not perfection.
I don’t have to love myself perfectly. I don’t have to dole out kindness and appreciate goodness perfectly. I don’t have to value every passing moment as if it were my last.
I can stand up for myself imperfectly.
I can love as best as I can.
I can feel the sting of someone’s disrespect and withdraw while I get my emotional self back together. I don’t have to be resilient and forgiving all in a moment.
I can take the urgings of a fabulous friend or I can scroll by because today is not the day to feel fabulous or warm or whole.
Progress, not perfection.
One day at a time.
Cross-posted on facebook.
Image © Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com