Perfectionist Vanilla fails at something… and is ok!


I failed my creative writing class. I missed the last 3 classes because of work, and have zero time to do the final assignment (write a short story). The last time I failed anything I was young and stupid and failed out of engineering. That produced the biggest chip on my shoulder ever, such that when I went back to school, I refused to ever get anything less than an A- and have a top 3 mark in every single class. Which I did, graduating at the top of my class with a 4.wtv GPA, and winning an award, and turning into an OCD, angry, control freak in the process. During my graduate degree, I got a B once, the summer my ex broke up with me and I turned into a raging alcoholic (I showed up to class only to spend the time on facebook and talk to my friends, did zero homework or practice cases, and wrote the midterm and final. How I passed is a mystery, but hey! #countyourblessings #turnsoutthatwasoneofthemostimportantclasseseverformycareer). I try forget that blotch on my beautiful transcript. And yes, there was a period in my life when I would pull up my transcript and stare at it in rapt admiration, to make me feel better about myself. #sadbuttrue

My therapist suggested that one of the causes of my depression was my perfectionism. As it is impossible for a human to be perfect, and as perfection was the only thing I could tolerate in myself, it was only normal that I hated/despised myself, and deemed myself unworthy of love and attention from others. Furthermore, vulnerability requires the ability to recognize imperfections, weaknesses, the ugly, the scars. If I couldn’t accept that perfection was impossible, by the same token, I wouldn’t ever be vulnerable, and vulnerability is the core of human connection – I was essentially cutting myself off from others voluntarily, to hide my imperfections, and we all know that depression thrives on isolation. My therapist worked hard to get me to practice compassion towards myself. One of the first exercises he made me do was write a letter of compassion to myself. I tried. It was awful. It was a balance sheet of my strengths and weaknesses. He made me google the definition of compassion in a session, and we worked through each sentence, to help me achieve understanding, and compare it to what I’d written. I tried 3-4 more times. The first time I successfully wrote a letter of compassion to myself was about 12 months into my 20-month therapy stint. Clearly, compassion was a concept that I did not comprehend.


Here I am, having failed at something I set out to do. And you know what? My primary feeling is gratitude. Grateful that my life is so full, so exciting, so challenging that I don’t have time to do everything I want to do. Grateful that in such a short period, I seem to have achieved the happiness that I spent so long chasing. Accepting that my quest to become a better writer might take longer than I’d like, but that’s ok, because I am working on all of the aspects of Vanilla that need expression: Career Vanilla, Dancer Vanilla, Blogger Vanilla, Athlete Vanilla, Flirty Vanilla, Friend Vanilla, Cousin Vanilla…

Life is good.

#gratitude #happiness #adulting



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