Sometimes I find it so hard to shake that old perfectionist girl who used to try so hard it hurt and would work so hard to never let anyone see a crack in the armor. I used to push myself harder than I imagined, just so that people would like me. I’d add to my plate and add to my plate…always the ‘yes’ girl. That can-do attitude that I tried so hard to keep up nearly killed me. And when I would make a mistake, it was devastating It crushed me. It took me months to shake it off.
Once I spelled ‘Los Angeles’ wrong for a giant sign at a big event that many big-wigs and lots of important people were flying in for. I realized it 5 minutes before it began.
Once I invited the entire undergrad MIT class to interview for positions that were only meant for specific MBA students.
Another time, I invited hundreds of students to private event that was meant for a select few candidates.
I can not even begin to explain the level of panic that I reached. Embarrassment shame, fear….I didn’t get over it for months. I was so serious about it all and such a stress-case. But even with all of that, I also felt a sense of purpose and independence. I loved getting dressed in the morning and heading out with my cup of coffee to catch the train. I loved gabbing with my friends in our cubes before work started (oh who am I kidding? We talked all day long.). I loved having the independence that a paycheck gave me. I liked working, but I was definitely ready to get off the perfectionist train.
Fast forward 3 years and I could kiss the Internet for the gratitude I feel for it. This network of wires (wires? hmm) allows me have what I consider the best of both worlds: the time and the energy to devote to my kids that I want and the time and the energy to devote to creating a business that I love. Imagine what our grandmothers would have thought about that?
I still slip into perfectionist mode but it doesn’t come with the same level of anxiety and send me into meltdown, panic-attack land like it used to. Because I’m happier overall with my life, I’m way less stressed and way less worried about constantly trying so damn hard. Just yesterday, in fact, as the cashier was in the middle checking me and my very big food order out at the supermarket, I realized I didn’t have my wallet with me. PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! My old response system kicked in and I desperately tried to find a way out of the store so that nobody would see me….ever, ever, ever again. Then… seriously? I just told them and we all had a good chuckle together while my husband saved the day and brought me my wallet.
So, here’s the thing: I can’t remember how to walk in heels and I don’t get to pop my head up and talk to my friends in the next cube during my day. And sometimes I still wish I could hop on the train and read my book in peace for 20 minutes. But I do get to wear yoga pants a good chunk of time (which I consider a big win on most days) and I do feel productive, independent and passionate about my work.
I think this balance makes me a better mom. Perfect? Not even close. But I’m so over that.