The Enemy

Sit down. Brace yourself. Spoiler alert. There’s no such thing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or being perfect.

I know, you’re thinking Ok, I can give up Santa Claus - I’ll still get Christmas presents and I don’t need the Easter Bunny to get my chocolate fix. But, hold on just a flawless, faultless, matchless minute I am not giving up my perfectionism - no siree bob.

While I am not a big believer in labeling, perhaps perfectionism should be a diagnosis in the DSM-V. It would say people who have this characteristic strive for unattainable goals while constantly comparing themselves to others using an unrealistic measuring stick with overly critical self-evaluation and have the possibility of falling into depression when they don’t reach said goal.

We all have perfectionism lurking around the corner or over our shoulder just hanging out waiting until we are vulnerable to pounce. Perfectionism threatens our sense of self worth and our ability to live our self-defined authentic life.

We live in a culture where everybody is served up as flawless through photoshop and everyone has a life of mythical proportions according movies and television. What do all these media messages do to our collective psyche?

I’ll tell you: we never feel or think we are enough. Enough what, you ask? ____________ enough - fill in the blank. Strong enough, thin enough, fast enough, smart enough, energetic enough, pretty enough, cool enough, spiritual enough - you get the picture. We carry these mantras around that are hurtful and destructive to our well being.

Perfectionism is insidious. We get tricked or maybe lulled into believing our friends and family expect us to be perfect and to make it look easy. We start looking to them with the same expectations. And then the cycle begins again. We have a difficult time being real with each other because we’re afraid we won’t cut the mustard when really we all are doing the same dance.

Eventually this results in exhaustion and fear of trying. When we’re depleted we feel defeated and the self-doubt and self-flagellation kick into high gear, which makes for no motivation. We become stuck in our tracks. When we’re exhausted and stuck it’s hard to muster courage to try.

For the past year, I’ve been hearing a lot of references to Theodore Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena quote excerpted from his Citizenship in a Republic speech. “It’s not the critic who counts” - even if it’s the one inside your head.

Waiting until we are enough prevents us from trying. Ah, the oxymoron. Trying is the opposite of perfection. Trying is not about perfect just as faith is not about certainty. Perfectionism prevents us from being proud of our wins. Perfectionism is the enemy of us all, and “forever the enemy of the possible good.” (www.theodore-roosevelt.com)

So step out, out into the arena with what you have and who you are.