When I was younger, from about early teens to early 30's, I was impatient for life.
My upbringing instilled in me a sense of urgency. That life was fleeting, over-too-soon, and at risk of being wasted. In fact, it wasn't until my 30's that I finally made the connecton between insomnia and the need to be-part-of-it-all-in-case-I-miss-something.
You know how most kids don't want to go to bed, or leave the party, or stop playing a game, because it's just sooooo much fun? Well, it's like that but it's not about the fun of the Now, the way kids experience it. It's cemented in Fear. The fear of missing out, of not doing enough, of wasting my life.
We all have fears formed in childhood, whether we are aware of them or clear of what they are or not (perhaps I'll post about those one day?), and mine, one of mine, was this, the fear of regretting my life, the fear of not having done enough.
I used to believe this was a good way to live. That is, to live without regrets. To live life to the full so that when I looked back in my old age I would look back contented. But it isn't. It isn't a good way to live.
Because the propellant is Fear - I can never do enough, the grass is always greener on the other side, I'm more likely to start something than finish it, stress, burn-out, never satisfied, forever owning a state of anxiety that I should be doing something else. Perhaps worse than anxiety is a state of ennui.
Then one day. I gave up perfectionism. Another Fear. Just like that. I can't remember now the how or why of it. But when I saw it for what it was, I gave it up.
There would have been a time when blogging as I do now, as well as commenting on other blogs, would have been an anxious activity. I would have proofread my posts several times. Checking for grammatical and spelling mistakes, as well as questioning it's appeal or wittiness (that's not to say I don't check for mistakes now, it's just courtesy, but you understand what I mean). I would have done the same with comments, wondering if I said something really cool or interesting, or simply worth the blogger's time.
My moodboards would have taken hours. My blog photos would have taken hours to obtain the right one and to edit beyond perfection. If I shared them at all. I never would have shared my knitting mistakes.
I think one of the saddest things is that in trying to be all of ME, I was actually disconnected from me. Because what I was doing essentially, was living life so that others approved of it. The many choices I made (more in part2) seemed at the time to be for me, but were really about pleasing others, or being acceptable to others, or being admired by others, and on and on.... This is not an easy thing to admit to oneself. Lack of clarity, fear, stubborness, lack of self-awareness, Ego, are all great barriers.
In giving up perfectionism, I cleared a path to a place where being Superwhatever was no longer sensical. I realised that not only couldn't I do it all perfectly, I simply couldn't do it all. And so in this way, I gave up trying to Do everything and trying to Be everything.
What I had perceived as a lack of time was exactly that, a perception. If I only do what feels right (whether it's something joyful or a responsibility I have accepted) I have plenty of time. If I do only what I'm passionate about, I have MORE TIME THAN I NEED.
I had misinterpreted living life to the full.
I had thought that every waking moment had to be filled doing something. I had thought that I had to prove my worth with status or a title (just one more course, honest) or a Really Respectable Job, or at least one that paid really darn well. I thought that I had to save the world. I thought that I had to know everything (yeah, good luck with that).
Now, my interpretation is very different.
Living life to the full means that I have passion, joy, or great enjoyment for the things I do choose to do.
It means that I can allow time to slip away, forgotten amongst the wanderings through brambles, and roots, and owl hoots, or with cuddling in bed, or with lullabies, or daydreaming.
It means that I make sure every person that I care about knows it. Truly knows it, no matter how embarrassing it might be to tell.
It means that I take chances if they feel right.
It means that I know when to let go, and do so with peace.
It means that what sort of person I am is more important than what I do.
It means that I recognise that Making a Difference can come in many shapes and sizes - some obnoxiously huge and some like almost imperceptible grains of sand.
It means that I embrace mistakes for their unique opportunity to learn something new, make a connection with someone, for allowing myself to live fearless, or simply because how bloody funny they can be.
It means that Following my Dream can be a very vague thing indeed. That it needn't be explainable to anyone. And that it can change.
It means that I live life rather than trying to make life happen.