It’s a simple fact of life that, sometimes, shit hits the fan. Today, I have a fantastic example of that to share with you. You see, today’s blog post was supposed to a celebration of National Biking Week.
A combination of busy schedules and wet weather here in Maine lead to me having to put this content off over and over again.
Finally, Thomas and I had a day together where neither of us had to work or fulfill any other obligations. It wasn’t particularly nice out but it wasn’t raining. That, in itself, was a cause for celebration. It was my final chance to get this post done and tick it off my to-do list. Thomas planned our route. We bundled up and headed out.
If you have been following along here at Laurel and Iron, you know that I am avid spin class attendee. Safe in the confines of a dark, loud room on a bike that goes nowhere, I feel confident. I move easily through the various positions, the choreography, and even the tap backs.
On the streets, with cars whizzing by and people watching me, not so much. Biking in traffic is something I don’t feel confident about at all but I was willing to try...for the blog. The ultimate goal was to bike from my house to a popular bike path instead of driving the short distance to the bike path, as we have previously done.
Less than a quarter of a mile from my front door, I started to panic. I was informed on the statistics about bicycling versus motor vehicle fatalities (quite low) but this did nothing to calm my nerves. Fight or flight mode set in. A feeling I am, unfortunately, all too familiar with. In the moment, I was sure I was going to die. Then my gear changed unexpectedly and my foot slipped. All hell broke loose in my mind. Every bone in my body screamed for me to pull off the road before I met an unfortunate end. And so I did. Thomas pulled over too, asking what was wrong.
I was angry. I was angry at myself for being so weak. Angry that I wouldn’t be able to make the post. Angry that I was pretty useless at all things “outdoorsy.”
I turned around and biked home. I told Thomas to go on without me (because I’m a queen of theatrics, people). I made it home safely but after dropping my sunglasses at the entrance of my street and having to get off the bike and pick them up off the ground I was so mad that I just pushed the bike the rest of the way.
Then I cried. Then I felt stupid. Then I felt angry again.
Thomas got back from his ride and we talked it out. I admitted that my anxiety surrounding riding in traffic led to a feeling of lack (lacking ability, lacking toughness, lacking strength). And that feeling of lack lead to a feeling of being not good enough.
If my life has themes, feeling inadequate is one of the top 3. There are a lot of ways in which I don’t feel like I am enough...not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough. But not good enough at biking in traffic...come on. When I stepped back and looked at it objectively, this is really silly thing to feel so upset over. The feelings I felt were severely disproportionate to the reality of the situation. But I wasn’t really upset about biking, underneath it all.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know what was really going on. Yes, the immediate source of my anxiety was biking in traffic but when you dig in, you get to the actual problem. I had decided I was going to write a post about biking and now I was failing at the thing I was going to write a post about.
And if I’m failing at the thing I’m supposed to be writing about, who am I to even have a blog in the first place? And if I don’t have a blog, I can never leave my soul-crushing job. And I will die having never lived a life I love.
Does this all sound a bit like nonsense? Good. It is absolute nonsense. Sometimes, things don’t work out. I am not a failure because I couldn’t get the content I needed to write a blog post I came up with by a deadline that I set for myself. I am not going to be sitting on my deathbed thinking “If only I had written that Bike Week post, all my dreams could have come true.”
My success is not hinging on this one little thing; this one blog post. But I was so far down in the weeds of worry, that I couldn’t see the bigger picture. When I finally came up for air, things were a lot clearer.
Life is not perfect. Not my life. Not your life. Not even Kate Middleton’s life. And for the love of all things royal, if Kate Middleton can’t be perfect, who the hell am I to even try? What an epic waste of time, energy, and emotion it is to pursue our own made up ideas of perfection. And don’t even get me starting about pursuing someone else’s idea of what perfection in our own lives should look like.
Here I am today, with no post about biking, baring my truth to you. Sometimes, things do not go as planned in my life. Behind the scenes of Laurel and Iron, imperfection is not only a constant but an accepted member of the team.
A few days ago, I was sitting on my bike crying over imperfection. And ain’t nobody got time for that. So,how do we stop chasing perfection and start living without the guilt associated with imperfection? We recognize our feeling of lack, whatever it may be. We acknowledge it out loud to, ourselves or a trusted confident. We tell that feeling that it is not serving us and we let it go.
If it comes back, we tell it again, louder. I am not perfect. I do not need to be perfect. I embrace imperfection. I learn from imperfection. I grow from imperfection.
If you found a magic lantern and were to be granted three wishes by Will Smith, would you even wish to be perfect? What would you gain from perfection? Perfection is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Without challenges and failures, how would we grow? And if we stopped growing, what would the be the point of it all?
Perfection is a made up concept. It is an idea constructed by society. When we reject the idea, we find freedom.
I challenge you to give up the idea of perfection for at least one area of your life. I am giving up the idea of perfection of in blogging. Tell me what you are giving up in the comments below!