This little girl, in all her triumphant glory, still shows me how to keep things real.
(photo credit: The St. Catharines Standard)
Generally speaking, I consider myself to be an observant and relatively intelligent person. Then how is it that one of the most liberating pieces of wisdom came as a surprise to me? "There is more than one way to do a good job," I was advised. So simple, so obvious, and yet I was gobsmacked. You see, as an admitted lifelong perfectionist, I had conditioned myself into believing that there was only one way to accomplish a task. Anything less than perfect just would not do. This thinking, I've learned, is counter-intuitive to living a fulfilled life. In fact, it's paralyzing. When you put most of your energy into searching for that one golden path, you end up spending more time procrastinating or beating yourself up than doing the thing you are intending to do. Don't even get me started on the self-induced stress and anxiety that consumes you.
Interestingly, my young self seemed to understand that living is about exercising options--plural. Sometimes those options are as simple as what feels right at that moment. You can see that realization in the above photo. Here I am at age four, participating in a track-and-field day, attempting the high jump at a whopping 14 inches. Athletics were never my thing, but a zest for life has always been so I enthusiastically followed my friend Robbie to the high-jump. "What fun!" I thought. What happened next has become legendary. It just so happened that a photographer for the local newspaper caught me in the moment. The captions explain it all: "Lore charges to the bar." "Becomes frightened." "Turns away hiding." "Changes her mind." "And steps, not jumps, over the bar." Granted, I did not win any ribbons that day, but I demonstrated what I knew instinctively--that I would find my own way through (or in this case over!).
Flash forward forty-plus years and here I am again, still trying to find my own way yet again. In the early days of a new year, this quote comes to mind: "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” I feel like I've been paralyzed, staring at the high bar in so many areas of life---career choices, health matters, relationships with family and friends, to name a few. Maybe, just maybe, running and jumping is not the best for me right now. When I look at little Lore: she knew to follow her instincts and find a way to complete the task. She reminded me to look at my path from from other angles--taking stock of where I am and find a good approach for me to make it over hurdle. Not necessarily the best but good; and, apparently, sometimes good enough is what's best.
Will I lower my standards? Probably not. I am still a perfectionist. "So what will change in my approach?" you might wonder. Well, I'm open to the possibility of failure. I'm learning to accept that failure at a task doesn't define who I am. I'm willing to be more flexible as to what my standards are, situation by situation. I'm creating my new mantra: Life is a process. Sometimes I'll succeed and other times not. The point is that I am willing to rethink my approach. Hey, you never know where your risk of failure might take you. In fact, these personal choices might just allow you to end up on the front page of the newspaper, with a look of utter triumph and satisfaction on your face for having tried your best at that moment and got the job done your way.