Here’s the thing, I am an anxious perfectionist … it doesn’t exactly make for an easy life. I’m the sort that would choose not to do something just in case I look like a fool or get it wrong. This sort of attitude means that left to my own devices I would just do the same routine every day, revelling in the security of it, confident that I know all outcomes and how to get the best one. But that feeling of security is pretty much the only upside, without serious effort I wouldn’t travel, I would never change a job I’m comfortable in and I would never reach my potential.
This has all hit home recently because I have a new job. I loved my old job but I was so far in my comfort zone that I had put up a picket fence and was considering landscaping. While I loved sitting as this big fish in a little pond I was frustrated by the lack of challenge, buy having to maintain rather than create and by not feeling that I had any power. Not that I recognised any of this by the way, I just knew I was getting grumpier and grumpier at work, paradoxically while still loving my comfort zone.
Then my boss sat me down and by talking it through with him I saw that I needed was both a next step and a push.
The braver you are, the bigger the bite you take, the bigger the reward. I don’t mean money or anything so crude, it’s the little challenges that you complete that stocks up your life arsenal. If I survived this, I can survive the next, and when I survive that I can tackle the one after.
And it’s not only that, those big things that I before never would have put myself forward for because I feared failure or doing it wrong? Fucking hell they are fun. Jumping in feet first at first makes you feel like you are trying to run with the bulls, you don’t know where to turn and every direction seems a little spiky. But then something happens, if you stick with it and put your whole heart into the challenge you will find that instead of screaming into the wind you are laughing as it rushes by.
Life is scary, scary as hell. There are so many expectations of you that there is no way anyone can actually feel complete. Big boobs tiny waist…yeah totally realistic. Be at the top of the career tree and a stay at home Pinterest Mum…yep they totally work together. Be responsible but be free. Save money but keep up with the trends. Enjoy sex but don’t be a slut. Look beautiful at all times but don’t care about your looks. Get an education but travel the world as a free spirit.
No one can meet those expectations. They. Just. Can’t.
For an anxious perfectionist all those combined pressures mean that I am pretty much guaranteed to feel like a failure no matter what path I take. But here is the secret, the little nugget that will make it all ok, bravery.
Being brave and taking that first step, meeting that first challenge, defying that first expectation is what will give you the strength to face the next. Leaving your house, getting that radical haircut, speaking up in a meeting, taking that class, getting out of that situation, showing your fandom, booking that trip, having that talk; take that little first step on the chance that you will soon be laughing into the wind.
Be brave my loves, it’s all we have that’s ours alone.